Despite being handed a vital points break by the stewards at Spa-Francorchamps, Felipe Massa refused to be drawn on whether he or Lewis Hamilton has the greater momentum in the Formula One world championship chase.
The Brazilian has now 'won' two races in a row - at Valencia and Spa - and been robbed of another certain victory, in Hungary, by late-race engine failure, but had failed to close in on Hamilton's points total until being promoted to top spot in Belgium. When Hamilton was penalised for gaining an advantage by cutting the chicane in his battle with the second Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, it slashed the points gap at the top of the standings to just two as the series heads to Monza.
Massa, however, refused to be drawn on whether the decision made him the favourite to take a maiden world title over the next five races.
"I see it as being pretty competitive," he noted, "When you see that there is a two-point difference and we have five races ahead of us, everything is really completely open.
"We have 50 points [available] in the championship, which is quite a big number of points compared to the difference [between first and second overall], so the battle is one hundred per cent open. We saw this year that you have some races where, maybe, Ferrari was a little bit better, [and] you had other races where perhaps McLaren were a little bit better. It's really difficult to make a clear comment on which track we maybe can have an advantage or not, or maybe if we have an advantage or if they have an advantage. I think it will be very competitive all through the races."
Refusing to comment in depth about the decision to alter the result of the Belgian Grand Prix, Massa preferred to concentrate on discussing his chances of success on Ferrari's home soil.
"To be honest, I've given my ideas on this many times about what happened," he sighed when confronted with another enquiry about Spa, "What's happened is that he took an advantage by cutting the chicane. You can ask other drivers how many overtaking manoeuvres you see there - no overtaking. Going from the last corner to the first corner is such a small straight, so he took an advantage, that's clear, that's my opinion, so it doesn't change.
"I really like the circuit here at Monza. I have a great memory [of racing here] in the other categories - in Formula Renault, in F3000, I always had very strong races here. Unfortunately, in Formula One... last year, it could have been a second place. We were doing a good race, but then I had a mechanical problem in the car.
"But I like the track and I am really motivated and optimistic that we can do a good job this weekend. For sure, it is a track which is completely different to any other track for how you prepare your car in terms of aerodynamics. I think we had quite a good test [here before Spa], and I really hope that we can be very competitive. McLaren showed a very good performance on the test and also last year, so it will be a big competition for sure. But I think we are [heading] in the right direction in terms of preparing for this race and we'll see if we can start on Friday and Saturday morning with a reasonable set up."
The only spanner in the works, Massa admits, is the chance that it might rain in Italy this weekend. The Ferraris have nor performed as well as Hamilton in the rain, with the Briton coming out on top at Monaco and Silverstone, and crossing the line first at Spa after hunting Raikkonen down as it started raining.
"We have seen many times this year that, in the rain, we lost a little bit of performance, so maybe it would be nice not to have the rain here and not have any opportunity to have a consistent race," Massa concluded.