Felipe Massa hopes to fight with Mercedes in the Malaysian Grand Prix but admits it won't be easy for Williams.

Lewis Hamilton was fastest in FP1 before Nico Rosberg set the pace in the second session, but on both occasions a number of cars were close in terms of one-lap pace. With Williams again looking strong, Massa is hopeful he can get close to Mercedes but at least expects to be in the next group of teams fighting for the podium.

"I'm sure Mercedes is having more to show and definitely they are the team to beat," Massa said. "I hope we can be able to be at the front. It won't be easy; it will be difficult but let's try. I think behind Mercedes there is also a big fight between many teams so I think it is important that we can be there."

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With Red Bull and Ferrari managing to post times with 0.1s of Rosberg's best, Massa said he had expected to see both teams closing the gap quickly.

"Surprised? No. I am sure that they have a competitive car and they are going to be there fighting. We also saw a very good lap from [Sebastian] Vettel so maybe they can be there fighting and I hope we can be there in a good option and a good direction to fight with them."

And Massa said his main target this weekend would be to qualify the car in a position where it can be competitive.

"I hope we can start in the top five; that would be great. Then the race is the race and anything can happen..."