Despite missing almost an entire practice session, Felipe Massa will start the Chinese Grand Prix towards the front of the grid on the second row, though he expects a challenge to maintain the position come race day.

Forced onto the back foot after crashing in FP2, the Brazilian came into qualifying having been outside the top ten after FP3, but found his form on the soft tyre in the deciding session, producing a lap good enough to out-qualify Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas and the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

Indeed, Massa was impressed with his lap, particularly given the car's pace prior to qualifying, but admits Ferrari may have the edge over a race distance having lost his long run due to the FP2 accident.

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"It was a good lap I did, so I am happy with my lap but we know tomorrow the race is not easy, it is difficult and it will be a big fight," he said. "I also lost my long run because of my crash so we need to be ready for everything.

"The car was not really good in practice this morning or yesterday. I think we managed to make the tyres work in qualifying, which was not really the case before. If you look at the first race of the season, not so much Malaysia, we are more or less there with Ferrari, but Ferrari are a bit better.

"We need to do everything we can to get more points and fight with them. They had a very strong pace on the long run yesterday, but I hope we can.

Indeed, Massa says Ferrari's good Friday long run pace puts them in a good place for Sunday's race, though he takes more comfort from being more closely matched in Australia.

"Ferrari showed in Malaysia they were better than everybody in using the tyres, so maybe they have an advantage here. In Australia we were good, we lost the position because of strategy and in Malaysia we were not even comparing. It could be hotter the race tomorrow, so we have to prepare everything in the best way."