Felipe Massa has insisted Ferrari will still be the team to beat come the opening grand prix of the 2008 Formula 1 campaign in Melbourne next month, despite encountering a number of reliability woes during testing in Bahrain over the weekend.

The Brazilian suffered a hydraulic issue on Saturday, before running into engine problems that curtailed his running just 24 hours later. A number of observers have cast doubt on the robustness of the hydraulic system on Maranello's new machine, particularly in terms of engine cooling. It has let go four times already since the F2008's birth at the beginning of January, with a similar failure occurring during the first three-day test under the desert sun last week.

"It was a positive day, even though I didn't complete the race simulation because of an engine problem," Sky Sports quotes the 2007 Bahrain Grand Prix winner as having told Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport. "It has been taken off the chassis to investigate.

"The feeling is that it's not a serious failure, and that it's possible to solve it before the Australian Grand Prix. We would all have preferred to finish the grand prix [simulation], but it's better for the problems to come up now and not in the first race, as [happened] in 2007 and to my disadvantage."

The 26-year-old was also effusive about the potential displayed thus far by the F2008, which has set the pace on every day of testing at the Sakhir International Circuit, comfortably clear of Toyota's TF108.

"I like the car," he underlined. "It's not yet the definitive one for the first grand prix, but the performance and the reliability are excellent. The lap times are good both compared to last year and compared to Toyota's.

"Comparisons with the rest will come soon. We are already more than satisfied, because we know we'll improve further."