Felipe Massa has asserted that it would be 'wrong' to make out that team-mate Fernando Alonso's first victory of the season for Ferrari in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone earlier this month was purely down to the short-lived change in F1's exhaust regulations - and he vows that the team will prove it at the N?rburgring this weekend.

The row over off-throttle blown-exhausts that at one stage threatened to entirely overshadow the Silverstone weekend appeared to benefit Ferrari more than most - and certainly more than its front-running F1 2011 rivals.

McLaren-Mercedes managing director Jonathan Neale has opined that the Woking-based outfit lost in the region of half-a-second-a-lap to its scarlet adversaries [see separate story - click here] - but Massa is adamant that the Scuderia's upturn in performance and British Grand Prix success was not the product predominantly of questionable rule changes.

"Looking back, my result was not the best, but I came away from England feeling very encouraged by the performance of the F150? Italia over the course of the weekend," the Brazilian reflected. "The race itself could have gone better, but as I explained before, from quite early on - around lap 20 or so - my car picked up a piece of debris in the floor, which affected my level of downforce and reduced my pace. That in-turn meant I was using the tyres more than I should [have been], which impacted on the final result.

"However, in general, our pace at Silverstone was much better than we had expected at the circuit, and that is down to an excellent job from the team and those working back in the factory. Okay, as from now the rules regarding the off-throttle diffuser go back to where they were, but the suggestion that our improved performance at the last race came from the rule change is wrong.

"When the engine-mapping was changed, I would say we were losing maybe around four tenths of a second, depending on the track. This lack of downforce should theoretically make it more difficult to get the tyres to work, especially the hard compound, but even in this configuration, Silverstone was the first time we were able to make the hard tyres work very well. As an example, just look at the first part of qualifying where I was third-quickest, just a tenth of a second behind the fastest man, using the hard tyre.

"This means that our performance level was down to all the new components and updates we brought to Silverstone, and was not connected to the rule change - so now I expect we can continue to move forward like this in the second half of the season."

That will begin with this weekend's German Grand Prix, but in the intervening period since Silverstone, the 2008 F1 World Championship runner-up has spent some time at home in Monaco and also at Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello, 'with a busy schedule both on the technical front and with promotional work'.

That dual focus involved simulator work, meetings with engineers and driving the Prancing Horse's three-seater F1 car, an experience that he describes as 'entertaining' and 'great fun'. His passengers included his wife - who consequently 'has a rather stiff neck', he quips - chassis director Pat Fry and his own race engineer Rob Smedley, who 'was very quiet, very nervous and shaking when he got out of the car'... Now, however, Massa's attentions are turned fully towards the business at-hand.

"The German Grand Prix is an event I enjoy," the 30-year-old mused, "and I have been on the podium four times, although three of those have been at Hockenheim. Then I have two additional podiums from coming second at the N?rburgring in the 2007 European Grand Prix - after leading Fernando in the McLaren for much of the race - and third behind Michael [Schumacher] and Fernando in 2006, my first-ever podium in my [F1] career.

"It is an interesting circuit, with some unusual corners, uphill and downhill and slow turns in the modified first sector. You need good downforce, but there are also some straights where straight-line speed is important, and based on what we saw from our aero package at Silverstone, I have high hopes that we can continue in the right direction in Germany.

"I have said it so often, but it's still true, that at Ferrari we never give up and we keep on fighting. The best strategy is simply to think about the season one race at a time, like we did at Silverstone. Now we need to keep the momentum this weekend and then immediately afterwards in Hungary, as that comes just one week later. As for the championship, what can I say? As long as there is a mathematical possibility, there is always hope."

Meanwhile, as speculation continues to swirl around his future at Ferrari and who may or may not be replacing him, the eleven-time grand prix-winner has received a vote of confidence from the team's president Luca di Montezemolo, who told Sky Sports Italia: "Massa and Alonso always bring something more. Alonso is super, Massa is coming back - I think the drivers are not a problem. This is the time for gossip, but next year's drivers will remain Alonso and Massa."

As to both drivers' conviction, finally, that despite the gaping deficit to bridge to runaway world championship leaders Red Bull Racing, the title battle is very much still alive, di Montezemolo concurred completely, stating: "Where there's a will, there's a way. We are all disappointed that we weren't where we wanted to be at the beginning of the season, and that's why I'm pleased with the Silverstone victory, with a show of superiority that gives us great hope.

"We'll count the points at the end, and in the meantime, we are working with next year in-mind, too. The victory has certainly come at the right time, after a lot of work. I asked for a great reaction, and I thank our men for the effort and the capabilities shown."