Felipe Massa may only have spent a single day behind the wheel of Ferrari's new F138 at Jerez, but reckons he's seen enough to be upbeat about the Scuderia's chances of success this year.
With Fernando Alonso opting not to drive at the first test of the pre-season, and new reserve Pedro de la Rosa scheduled to take over at the end of the week, Massa was entrusted with the first real run in the F138, which launched in Maranello last Friday (1 February). After the difficulties encountered with its predecessor, day one at Jerez was a nervous occasion for those behind its design, but Massa was quickly able to put minds at ease after racking up 284km of largely untroubled development.
“The first impression is definitely a positive one,” he told the media at the end of the day, “On a track like this, where traction counts for a lot and the tyres feel it, I got a positive feeling as far as the balance of the car is concerned and I think that, especially at the rear, we are going in the right direction and it feels more solid.
“It's definitely a different situation to last year, because the basis for this year is in much better shape. There is still a way to go before we understand the true behaviour of the car, but we are on the right road. There is still a great deal to do, as far as testing and development are concerned, but I am confident that this year, we will not lose time in understanding, as happened in 2012, what was the problem and how to solve it. Now we have a little more than a month to concentrate on the job, to be as well prepared as possible for the first race.”
Massa was sixth on the time sheet, but times in pre-season testing usually count for little, so there was only one gripe for the Brazilian.
“We did not run as much as I had expected, but that's normal when you are testing a new car,” he shrugged.