Felipe Massa has admitted that he had real concerns that his F1 career may be coming to an end at the conclusion of the 2012 season, amid rumours that he was to be replaced in the second Ferrari.
Any number of drivers were linked to the seat in recent months, ranging from former world champion Kimi Raikkonen to fellow Finn Heikki Kovalainen and Force India duo Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta, before Massa was finally confirmed as having signed an extension to his existing deal that will take him through the 2013 campaign as partner to Fernando Alonso.
While a run of better performances undoubtedly helped sway the Scuderia's opinion, Massa was also reportedly touted as the best option by Alonso, who no doubt sees the Brazilian as more of a subordinate than the likes of Raikkonen or Hulkenberg may be. Massa, however, believes that he can still be a force in F1.
"You know me well and know what I can do,” he told the media during a presscall at the Indian Grand Prix, "I am capable of doing a good job, knowing how to put together all aspects, from my driving, to the way I work with the team, the car, it's set-up and so on. I've been able to enjoy myself and win what I have won. I am sure, if I do all that again, then the results will come.”
Despite the confidence that comes with having secured his F1 future, albeit short-term, Massa revealed that he had had serious concerns that his time in the top flight may have been coming to an end at his home race next month.
“Yes, there were moments when I was worried, but then, after things started to improve, I was very calm about what would happen,” he explained, "I don't think the car changed that much, but it's true that before August, I had good races but something happened that meant I could not finish in the positions I should have done. From then on, we have managed to put together good races, both in terms of pace and because nothing went wrong in those races.
Massa always maintained that he would not be interested in moving down the pecking order simply to prolong his F1 career, despite suggesting that he had investigated other options, and is clearly relieved to have been able to convince Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo that he was the right man to partner Alonso into the final year of the current technical regulations.
“We spoke of many things,” he said of his meeting with the Italian, “I was alone with him and we looked back at past years, the bad ones and the good ones and we talked about the future as we have so often done and, in the end, everything was decided on that day.
“I did look around at the situation in other teams, but I never had what one could call real discussions with them, because I always wanted to stay here. Mentally, I am much happier and calmer now, because I believe good results bring other good elements and that helps create other positives. There's a bit of a feeling that I would like the season to go on longer now that things are going better, but it's been a long season for everyone! There are four races to go, then a break which I think everyone needs and after that I am already looking forward to next season, which I hope will be a good one from start to finish."