Felipe Massa has warned runaway F1 2011 World Championship leaders Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing that Ferrari's recent improvements 'will stand us in good stead for the second half of the season'.
Having looked down and out-for-the-count pre-Silverstone, Fernando Alonso's brilliant British Grand Prix triumph just over a week ago – Ferrari's first of a thus far troubled campaign in the top flight – has offered the Scuderia
a faint glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, Vettel and Red Bull are not unstoppable after all.
After out-manoeuvring both Vettel and the young German's team-mate Mark Webber to snatch the advantage around the high-speed Northants circuit, Alonso went on to out-pace the pair over the closing stages of the race, too – a hitherto unseen circumstance in 2011.
In so doing, he has narrowed his deficit to Vettel in the title standings to 'just' 92 points with ten outings remaining, beginning at the Nürburgring this weekend. The Spaniard's team-mate Massa – himself a further 60 markers in arrears having failed to ascend the podium this year – is adamant that all is not yet lost.
“In the last few races, our pace in the race was better than in qualifying, while at Silverstone we were quick in both situations,” the Brazilian told Ferrari's official website, alluding to the fact that Alonso got to within just over a tenth of a second of pole position in Britain, the closest he has been to-date in 2011.
“In qualifying, I finished third in Q1 with the hard tyres, and that shows that the car is very competitive. I am sure this improvement will stand us in good stead for the second half of the season.”
Alonso's race engineer Andrea Stella concurred that 'now with better aerodynamics and better understanding of the tyres, we will constantly improve' – but will that be enough to overhaul Vettel's advantage to clinch the crown? Possibly, contends Massa...
“My experience in 2008 and Kimi [Raikkonen]'s in 2007 shows that anything can happen,” the 30-year-old asserted, “even if this year will be difficult, because Vettel would have to make a lot of mistakes.”