Felipe Massa says he doesn't doubt he still has the support of Ferrari despite a difficult start to the new F1 season.
The Brazilian has managed just two points from the opening five races of the season, with ninth place in Bahrain marking the only time he has finished inside the top ten so far in 2012. Qualifying has also been a disappointment, with Massa yet to qualify higher than twelfth – increasing speculation that his drive with the team could be at risk.
The pressure on Massa only increased when an article on the Ferrari website stating how 'everyone, he more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear starting right away with the Monaco Grand Prix' – seen by some as a veiled warning that he has to improve his game to help keep his place alongside Fernando Alonso.
However, in a lengthy interview on Ferrari's website, Massa said he still had the backing of his team and was keen to get back to form – insisting that the gap between him and Alonso hasn't been as large as the points standings would suggest and was more an indication of how well the Spaniard was performing.
“I feel the whole team stands by me,” he said. “Obviously, they are not happy with the results and neither am I: we all want is to get out of this and return to normal. It's possible and for sure it's what I want and I know that with the team's help we will manage it.
“I think that this year, the only race where there really was a big difference between me and Fernando was in Australia and then, in Malaysia the rain made it more complicated to get a clear picture. Starting in China, the difference in qualifying between the two of us was not so dramatic. Even in Barcelona, but for the traffic, my time in Q2 was in line with previous events and on Sunday [in Barcelona] my pace was not that far off.
“I think we must also take into account that, at the moment, Fernando's driving is amazing: he is on super form, maybe even perfect.”
Massa's loss of form would seem to coincide with accident in Hungary in 2009 that ruled him out for the remainder of the season and almost cost him his career, with the Brazilian having failed to win since returning to action at the start of 2010.
However, he said he didn't feel he has lost any of his speed since that accident when asked if there was any doubt in his mind over his pace since the incident in qualifying when he was hit by a spring that he come away from the car of Rubens Barrichello.
“I have asked myself that 45,000 times and don't think I haven't and why wouldn't I?” he said. “Having won so much over three years, eleven races, the question is obvious. And it's not as though I only stuck to asking myself: I went looking for the answer, asking a whole host of questions and undergoing as many medical examinations. All the doctors I consulted are prepared to swear hand on heart that there are absolutely no traces of the impact with the spring.