Felipe Massa has admitted that being given the chance to complete the first laps in Ferrari's new F10 challenger will be an emotional moment after the traumatic end to his 2009 campaign in Hungary.
The Brazilian was left with 'life-threatening' head injuries after being hit by a spring shed by Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during qualifying in Budapest, and serious doubts lingered over his ability to see again, let alone return to the front of the F1 field. However, after initial diagnoses proved over-cautious, Massa has worked his way back to fitness, racing karts and testing older Ferrari F1 cars in a bid to be a part of the Scuderia's 2010 assault.
He duly joined new signing Fernando Alonso for the unveiling of the F10 in front of a packed house at Maranello, knowing that it would be him - and not his double world champion team-mate - that would perform the car's first shakedown laps on Ferrari's private Fiorano circuit as part of the launch, before the machine is shipped off to Spain for the first group test of the campaign next week.
"This is a special moment because last year was very difficult," Massa admitted, "I'm very happy, and I now want to work more than ever, so I really hope this will be a very competitive car and we will be fighting for the championship."
With a hungry Alonso replacing the sometimes lacklustre Kimi Raikkonen this season, Massa knows that he will not have things all his own way in the Ferrari squad, but team boss Stefano Domenicali believes that the Brazilian will be more than a match for his new partner.
"We have two 'new' drivers as, with Felipe, we are talking of a new version of Felipe," Domenicali explained, "After such a dramatic championship like last year, with the accident in Hungary, Felipe has all the assets to prove he can be very successful. He can prove he wants to return to the pathway that destiny interrupted in Hungary."