Felipe Massa is confident he will be able to fight for the F1 2011 drivers' title this season.
Massa struggled last year and was forced to play second fiddle to his Ferrari team-mate, Fernando Alonso. However the Brazilian remains convinced that he will be given a shot at going for the honours in 2011.
“My target for this season is simple: to win races and to fight for the title,” Massa told Ferrari's official website during the Scuderia's traditional pre-season 'Wrooom' event at the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort in the Italian Dolomites. “I know that things didn't go well last year but that is the past. I believe I can return to fight for the crown and I have nothing else in my mind.”
Massa also reiterated that his main problem in 2010 was the tyres. He maintains though that he never lost the belief in his own abilities.
“I was never comfortable with the tyres, in particular the front ones. I didn't manage to adapt my driving style to those tyres, which were very different to the ones from 2009. That took its toll, especially in qualifying and when the available compounds were the hardest ones,” he explained.
“There were never problems though with [my] motivation, not even after a difficult weekend like Hockenheim. Fernando was better than me but I know my potential and I know that the team believes in me.
“In the past I've always had very strong team-mates, like Michael [Schumacher] and Kimi [Raikkonen], but I'd never found myself in a situation of not being comfortable with the car, as I had in 2010. The critics? They haven't hurt me, what troubled me was not having the results I wanted.”
Pressed on if he feels under pressure - especially as rumours persist he may be eased out if he doesn't improve, the 29-year-old added that is not something that gets to him: “I've always felt pressure in my career – indeed I'm the first to put pressure on myself,” he continued. “You notice external pressure but it's much less important. What counts is what you show on the track, inside the cockpit of the car, and how the team makes you feel – and I feel the faith and respect that Ferrari has for me.
“I like reading that they speak well of me, I certainly don't deny that, but I think that's the same for everyone. What counts is that I know, if I have a car that suits my characteristics, that I will be able to battle for the title.
“[Ferrari president Luca di] Montezemolo has spoken about having my brother driving in certain races last year? But he'd already spoken about brothers the year before – that time it was Kimi's!
"I know that last year things didn't go well but now we have to look to the future and do well this year.”