'I feel the whole team stands by me' - Massa
Felipe Massa is confident he still has the full support of Ferrari despite a disappointing start to the season with just two points from five races.
Massa has come under increasing pressure due to his below-par performances, with speculation Ferrari will replace him in 2013 if not before. He is currently 59 points off team-mate Fernando Alonso and has yet to make the final session of qualifying at any of the five rounds. Nevertheless he is confident he will turn things around with the backing of his team.
"Absolutely, yes, I feel the whole team stands by me," he told the Ferrari website. "Obviously, they are not happy with the results and neither am I: we all want is to get out of this and return to normal. It's possible and for sure it's what I want and I know that with the team's help we will manage it."
Massa also played down the gulf between himself and Alonso, although he did admit his Ferrari team-mate's performances, including a win in Malaysia, have been close to perfection.
"I think that this year, the only race where there really was a big difference between me and Fernando was in Australia and then, in Malaysia the rain made it more complicated to get a clear picture. Starting in China, the difference in qualifying between the two of us was not so dramatic.
"Even in Barcelona, but for the traffic, my time in Q2 was in line with previous events and on Sunday my pace was not that far off. I think we must also take into account that, at the moment, Fernando's driving is amazing: he is on super form, maybe even perfect."
Massa said he was having problems getting the best from the F2012 but is confident a recent update at the Spanish Grand Prix, where he finished 15th and Alonso finished second, had heralded a step forward.
"It's definitely not a very easy car to drive and it's hard to find a good balance," Massa added. "Many times I have found myself having to fight the car and, in these circumstances, it's easy to lose a tenth here and there: with my driving style maybe I struggle a bit more, because I don't manage to find a smooth way of driving. Then, it's well known that we don't yet have enough aerodynamic downforce and we are lacking in traction at the exit to slow corners, which could be the biggest problem.
"In Spain, we made a significant improvement, which could clearly be seen from Fernando's performance in the race, but I too, when I had a clear track ahead of me, had a good pace. We also made a little progress in terms of top speed, another area where we have suffered right from the start of the season."
The Spanish Grand Prix was Massa's 53rd consecutive race without a win and his 26th consecutive race without a podium. His last win came at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, the year before he suffered a serious head injury when a loose spring hit him at speed at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. But Massa says there is no evidence suggesting his accident is linked to his dip in form over the last couple of years.
"I have asked myself that forty five thousand times, and don't think I haven't and why wouldn't I: having won so much over three years, eleven races, the question is obvious. And it's not as though I only stuck to asking myself: I went looking for the answer, asking a whole host of questions and undergoing as many medical examinations. All the doctors I consulted are prepared to swear hand on heart that there are absolutely no traces of the impact with the spring.
"As for myself, I don't feel in any way different to the way I was before that weekend. For example, if it was true that I no longer had the same will to win as before or the same courage, then how can one explain the fact that, at the race start, I am probably still one of the best drivers and I am not the sort to hold back when it comes to overtaking?"