Felipe Massa has admitted that his form took an upturn as soon as he stopped being concerned about his future with Ferrari.
The Brazilian once again started the season slowly, handing the bulk of the team's point-scoring effort to Fernando Alonso as he took until Bahrain to open his account and then racked up only five top-ten finishes in the opening ten races. Throughout that period, the paddock was full of speculation as to who would replace Massa for 2013, such was the certainty that the Brazilian would be dumped, but Ferrari eventually confirmed an unchanged line-up in the middle of October – by which time Massa's form had picked up.
The extended contract may have been the result of the better results, but Massa insists that a change of focus had allowed him to show his true potential, picking up points in the final nine rounds, including podium finishes in Japan and Brazil, to snare seventh in the standings.
“In the first half of the year, I was worried about renewing my contract,” he admitted during a press call at Sunday's Ferrari Finali Mondiali event, “I did not think that Ferrari would really wait right to the end of the summer before deciding on the driver line-up for next year.
“It's true that, ever since I've been at Maranello, there have always been rumours about me - even in my first year there was a list of drivers who were supposed to take my place - and it was the same this year, with a lot of names and plenty of speculation.
“At the start, I paid too much attention to these things, but then, in August, I told myself I should only think about racing and having fun. I began to really drive, to have the right feeling with the car and to drive as quickly as I know how. Now I feel very strong and the results were there to see in the last nine races, so I am optimistic for the future - mine and Ferrari's.”