Felipe Massa pushed Ferrari to the head of the timesheets on day three of the Jerez group test, but insisted that the lap meant little when it came to judging form for the season ahead.

Having described Jenson Button's pacesetting lap on Tuesday as 'incredible', the Brazilian promptly posted a 1min 17.879secs effort, a full second quicker than the Briton had managed, and four-tenths quicker than Romain Grosjean had gone in leading the way on day two. In common with the majority, however, Massa stressed that, while it was nice to see his name at the top of the list, the difference in programmes meant that there was little that could be read into his performance.

"The quick lap? It means nothing," he claimed, "While I'm pleased to have done a good time, that was not the priority. Today, we fitted the soft compound tyres for the first time and I went faster than I had expected.

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"However, we must still concentrate on the car set-up and we will definitely be doing this during the next test in Barcelona. Several teams have very quick and well balanced cars, so I am 100 percent keeping my feet on the ground!"

The third day of testing saw Massa complete work started on Wednesday - including aerodynamic testing and exhaust configuration analysis - before moving on to a mid-morning comparison of the various tyre compounds supplied by Pirelli. Despite a harmless spin after the lunch break, he was able to end the day by concentrating on long run tests. In all, he completed another 85 laps, taking his week's work to over 1000km.

"These were three very important days," Massa admitted, "They were especially useful in the sense of finding the right direction for the team to focus on when it come to the development work between now and the opening round in Australia. We had a lot of items to test and the car went well, it was not difficult to drive and it seemed to me to be quite stable and balanced."

With Fernando Alonso opting to skip the test in favour of extra training in Dubai, Ferrari's running will be completed on Friday by recently-signed reserve Pedro de la Rosa, who makes his debut in scarlet after racing for HRT last season. Given his role helping to develop the car in the simulator at Maranello, the day will be very important for both team and driver as they work on the correlation between the virtual and the real worlds.