Felipe Massa has said that there is no reason not to count himself amongst the potential racewinners in 2013 after his improved form took him to the podium in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Although the Brazilian was nearly half a minute behind Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso at the finish, and had Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen between himself and the Spaniard, he had had to come from ninth on the grid after suffering a penalty for allegedly blocking another driver in qualifying, whereas Alonso had started two rows further forward.
Ferrari and Lotus appeared to have the best cars for the conditions at the Circuit de Catalunya and, after making a quick getaway to gain places on the opening lap, Massa was able to race his way into the top three, using the same four-stop strategy as his team-mate to run flat-out for much of the 66-lap distance.
“I'm still a bit disappointed for what happened yesterday, as these things happen many times and no penalties happen,” he said, dwelling on the post-qualifying call, “[However], the race was good.
“I had a very good start, [and] a very good beginning of the race. [I was] overtaking cars, trying to be aggressive and passing people. I tried to undercut people as well, stopping before them. Maybe it was a little bit early [sometimes] as, looking at the end of the race, I thought I maybe had the opportunity to fight with Kimi, but I think it was a great race, and we did a good job.
“I was pushing hard to see if I could manage to catch him, and I was catching him by more than one second per lap until lap six or seven [of the stint]. But then maybe I was pushing too hard, as I lost the tyres at the end, and I saw that maybe it was not possible to catch him, so I started to save the rears more and the pace didn't carry on like that. The only way to catch him was to push, so I tried to push, but it was not possible.
“However, our car was really superb for this track. The degradation on the tyres was not [as good as] Lotus, but I think we did the best we're supposed to do and showed the good performance that I expected to have from Friday.”
Asked whether he considered the top step of the podium to be within his reach for the first time since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, Massa answered in the affirmative.
“Yeah, definitely,” he claimed, “I think we are [heading] in a good direction so I hope, from now on, we are fighting for the podium every race..."