Felipe Massa insists that there is 'plenty of potential' in Ferrari's latest F1 challenger despite not having been able to set the Jerez group test timesheets alight during his two days behind the wheel.
The second day of testing for the Scuderia's new F2012 was much like the first, concentrating on data acquisition relating to the car's behaviour. Without the luxury of the traditional post-launch shakedown at Fiorano - cancelled due to heavy snow - track time was at a premium for Massa, who completed another 95 laps to add to the 69 he racked up on the opening day. Performance, however, was not the name of the game, as the Brazilian's fastest lap, a 1min 20.454secs effort, was a long way off the top of the timesheets, leaving him seventh and fully 1.9secs off former team-mate Michael Schumacher's benchmark in the 2011-spec Mercedes.
Despite that, however, it was hard to wipe away Massa's trademark smile as he explained that there was a lot more to come from the latest Prancing Horse.
“These two days have been different to usual, at least compared to what we've been used to at the start of previous years,” he pointed out, “This car is packed with elements that need plenty of fine tuning and they are different to what we had on previous cars. We concentrated on setting up a lot of specific points and there is still a lot to do.
"As usual, some things work the way they should, others less so. For example, I did a lot of laps at constant speed to gather information on the aerodynamics and on the general handling, because we need to be sure of the direction in which we need to go on the development front. We made some set-up changes from yesterday to today and the results this produced were what we had expected. It's important that this happened, as it means the car is reacting in the right way. Obviously, there is still a lot to do, maybe more than we had expected before we started, but we are definitely not scared of hard work!"
More importantly, perhaps, Massa revealed that his first impressions were that the car may allow him to overturn the comparatively poor personal performances he has endured in the last couple of years.
“I think the F2012 could well suit my driving style better than the previous car - for example, there is much less understeer,” he concluded, “It's only a case of working on it calmly and with concentration and that's what we will continue to do over the next few days when Fernando [Alonso] drives. I think this car has great potential, taking into account the point we are at now."
Even though he remains confident in the car's potential, however, he admits its looks aren't exactly to his liking.
"Is this the ugliest Ferrari I've ever driven?" he asked, "I don't know, as from the cockpit you can't see the front wing and, therefore, not the step either. But, definitely, from the outside, it's not the prettiest...”