Felipe Massa thoroughly blitzed his rivals in the morning session on the opening day's practice ahead of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, but team-mate Kimi Raikkonen came unstuck following 'communication' problems with the team.

As the Scuderia seeks to recover from a disastrous season-opening race in Australia just five days ago, Massa handed them a welcome boost by lapping more than a second quicker than anyone else during the first 90-minute session.

Though the Brazilian - who does not have the most sparkling record in Sepang, never finishing higher than fifth there in five starts - would lop a further two tenths off his best early effort later on, it would not quite prove enough to see off the onslaught of Lewis Hamilton, who went on to narrowly pip him to the top spot and leave him in second place at the close. Massa insisted, however, that he was not perturbed by his late demotion.

"I am very happy with these two sessions," the 26-year-old stressed. "The car proved to be very quick and consistent on both types of tyre. It's a shame I was unable to get the most out of the second set of soft tyres, when I found myself behind Hamilton who was going slowly, but we are working in the right direction for qualifying and the race."

Raikonnen, meanwhile, found his morning running curtailed when a misunderstanding led to the Finn being stranded on-track out of fuel, but the reigning world champion remained encouraged by the performance and potential of his F2008 as he wound up third-quickest outright, four tenths of a second shy of Hamilton and two tenths away from his team-mate.

"This morning I lost time because of a communication problem within the team," the 28-year-old mused, "but we made up for it in the second session. The car seems to be going well and I am pleased with the work we have done.

"I worked mainly on the harder tyres, but I think that even with the softs, from what we have seen, we can be competitive. It is always difficult to say where we are compared to our rivals, but I think we can face the rest of the weekend with confidence."

Between them, the scarlet duo completed almost 100 laps of the Sepang International Circuit - conducting set-up work in the stifling heat - and team principal Stefano Domenicali predicted a strong run over the remaining two days.

"The start of this weekend is reasonably positive," the Italian affirmed. "Kimi and Felipe reckoned they were happy with the way the cars went, both over a single lap and on a longer run [and] with both types of tyre. From what we have seen and considering all the usual Friday unknown quantities, I think we will be competitive in qualifying and in the race."

"This morning we got our lines of communication mixed up between the garage and the pit wall," confessed Maranello's technical director Luca Baldisserri. "That left Kimi stuck out on the track without fuel, but in the afternoon we were able to get more done, without any technical problems whatsoever.

"Both drivers found good settings on their cars and we got a lot of data on the behaviour of the two types of tyre. Now we must prepare very carefully for qualifying, because we know how important it is to start from the front. All-in-all, we are satisfied with the way the first day has gone here in Sepang."