Felipe Massa has insisted that he is still capable of winning the F1 world championship with Ferrari, despite the disappointment of being cast into the number two role in 2010.
The Brazilian was the unwitting victim of the Scuderia's desire to propel team-mate Fernando Alonso to the title as he was asked to move aside and relinquish a potential victory in last year's German Grand Prix. To make matters worse, the 'request' came a year to the day after the accident in Hungary that almost claimed his life. Only a few months before that, Massa came within seconds of winning the coveted title on home soil at Interlagos....
Many doubted whether he would still be at Maranello in 2011, but Massa will again partner Alonso and, according to the team, will start the season on an equal footing with the Spaniard. That, the Brazilian insists, is enough to keep him motivated in his pursuit of the title.
"I think I'm in a top team," he told CNN
, "It's important to have a top car and, if I have that, I will fight to the maximum level to be the champion. Ferrari is just the top in motorsport, it is a dream car on the road and, for sure, it is the most important thing. When you drive for a team like Ferrari, it really is a dream come true.
"I believe in my speed, I believe in the way I drive and I believe I can win many races - and the championship. I think that's very important to have that inside your brain, to be stronger and stronger all the time. And I know, if I have all the possibilities and everything that is automatically for my driving style, for the way I drive, I can be there."
Many of Massa's problems in 2010 were, according to the driver, down to an inability to generate enough heat in the Bridgestone tyres. The Japanese firm is gone for 2011, replaced by Pirelli, and Massa believes that the change will do him good.
"Most of the problems I had last year should be alright for this year because the tyres are much softer," he noted, "To get the temperature in the tyres will be easier, so I expect not to have this problem, but we are a little bit early to say that. I like the tyres. They're very different from last year, so maybe we are going to have more pit-stops because, otherwise, after some laps, you are struggling a lot. It's a big change for the championship, it's a big strategy change, but I enjoy it."
If something is lacking on track, however, Massa can always call on Lady Luck for help, having revealed that he more than a tad superstitious.
"I have special underwear, which I race in most of the time," he explained, "[I wear them] just for the Saturday and Sunday and I don't wash them but, for two days, what's the problem?"
Like many drivers, he also insists on putting the same foot into the cockpit first, and even has the same ritual when getting out of bed, but insists that the habits are only there as a comfort.
"You win because you are doing the best job, but inside your brain it is important to have everything clean and everything ready and that's why sporting people are superstitious," he reasoned, "For sure, you would win because you have the underwear or because you are happy or whatever, but I think the superstition is just something that is inside your brain."