Felipe Massa has again praised Ferrari for giving him a car he can work with amid suggestions that his rediscovered form could make him a contender for race wins in 2013.
After three seasons where his place in the Scuderia's line-up appeared to be under threat as he struggled to match up to Fernando Alonso, the Brazilian has now out-qualified the double world champion at four straight races, stretching back into the 2012 season, and will start on the front row of the grid for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.
While Alonso batted away suggestions that Massa could be a threat to his title ambitions, the Brazilian was having to explain his apparent 'return' to form – despite believing that it had never actually deserted him.
“I feel comfortable in the car,” he confirmed, “I think, whenever you feel comfortable, you can do a good lap and you can use the car to the maximum. It was really clear that I was not comfortable last year and the year before, with so many things around the car, bad luck, around myself as well. There were so many things that were not working in the proper direction, but now they are and I know how quick I can be, I've showed that many times in the past.
“I feel very happy, automatically driving the car. I like the car that we have this year much more compared to the car we had last year. I think I understand a lot more the direction for the set-up and everything – [although] we understood that last year, from August to the end of the year. When you try to do something you don't feel comfortable with, you maybe cannot do the perfect lap with the car, so I think that's really important for me, for the team.”
Despite admitting that, perhaps, his front row spot may not have been possible without the unpredictable conditions that affected the latter stages of qualifying, Massa felt that Ferrari could pose a threat to polesitter Sebastian Vettel on race day.
“I don't know if we were able to be second and third in the dry as [there were] some other quick cars, like [Mark] Webber, Kimi [Raikkonen], maybe Mercedes as well, so I think it was a good qualifying for us,” he mused, “We took the right decision at the start to change tyres and managed to put a good lap together as well. I think maybe the rain helped a bit.
“If everything works well, we can be competitive, I'm pretty sure about that. I believe in myself and I think it can be really important for the team, for Fernando as well, for everybody. We need a stronger team, a strong position and to be fighting for the best position in every race, so I'm happy.”