Massa happier with 'new' car
Struggling Massa optimistic of "big step" forward on Saturday
Last Updated: March 23, 2012 10:09am
Felipe Massa: Things Ferrari made a step forward
Felipe Massa is confident he will be able to show Ferrari have made a step forward with his F2012 in Saturday's qualifying session in Malaysia despite another indifferent showing in the timesheets during Friday's practice outings.
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The Maranello outfit have arrived at the second race of the season at Sepang still looking to get on top of their complex 2012 car and work out how to establish a more consistent level of performance from it.
Massa, in particular, is in need of a morale-boosting performance after a disastrous start to the campaign last weekend when he was conclusively outpaced by team-mate Fernando Alonso.
And although in Friday's second session Massa was again over a second off the pace being set by the sister car - the Brazilian finished a lowly 16th whereas Alonso wound up sixth - the under-pressure driver said the timesheet didn't reflect the step forward with the car he believes was made between the two sessions.
"The car that started the morning was completely different to the car I ran in the second session," he told Sky Sports News.
"I think that it can be very positive at least to find why things were very difficult in Australia.
"I think tomorrow it's a big step that the car can be much more competitive than what you guys saw in terms of lap time this afternoon."
After suffering chronic grip problems throughout the opening weekend, Ferrari opted to change Massa's chassis for the Malaysian weekend in order to rule out the possibility of any unusual behaviour from the car.
The Brazilian's mediocre showing in Melbourne nonetheless only served to ratchet up the pressure on him at Ferrari, with speculation in the Italian media suggesting he could even be replaced mid-season should his performances not pick up - although the team continues to insist he has their full support.