Felipe Massa has played down suggestions that McLaren may have closed the gap on Ferrari in recent Formula One tests, the Brazilian claiming that the Prancing Horse remains the best bet for success.

Speaking to Italy's La Stamp newspaper in the build up to the 2008 campaign, Massa pointed to the various programmes being followed by different teams at different times during any given test as an inaccurate measure of performance, and insisted that he was confident that Ferrari maintained the upper hand heading to Melbourne next weekend.

"It is the usual pre-season talk," he shrugged, "When your opposition is testing for qualifying, with new tyres and little fuel, it is obvious that they will be faster than you if you are testing for a grand prix [distance]. We did our qualifying tests the previous week, and beat the lap record. Only in Australia, will we understand who has been bluffing."

Massa went on to explain that the F2008 was a definite improvement over its predecessor, which was no slouch in its own right - as evidenced by two world titles in 2007 - giving him the confidence to predict more success in the coming campaign.

"[The car] has shown immediately a fine step forward with regard to the F2007 and, with the latest aerodynamic alterations, it will be even stronger," he warned, "Above all, in the long corners, we are much improved, solving our weak point [from 2007], along with reliability.

"That was a problem I had in 2007. If I had had a more reliable car, I could have done more but, to win a world title you need a combination of everything, luck included. This year, we have done more kilometres in winter testing in an effort to overcome technical problems."

Although he appeared to be Ferrari's stronger driver in the early part of 2007, as Kimi Raikkonen got to grips with his new team and unfamiliar Bridgestone tyres, Massa was the first of the 'big four' to drop out of title contention. This year, he has already said that he hopes to be Raikkonen's biggest rival.

"There is always an advantage when you win something, as happened to me when I won my first race," the Brazilian said, reflecting on Raikkonen's title, "but, from a performance point of view, we are equal. This year, I feel as strong and motivated as ever because I know I have everything I need to fight on level terms."