Massa determined to come back stronger in 2011 14 Jan 2011
Ferraris Felipe Massa is confident he will be a title contender again this season after a disappointing 2010. While team mate Fernando Alonso won five Grands Prix, Massa failed to secure a single victory and finished the year four places and 112 points behind the Spaniard in the standings.
I was never comfortable with the tyres, in particular the front ones, said Massa, explaining the cause of his difficulties last season. I didnt manage to adapt my driving style to those tyres, which were very different to the ones from 2009. That took its toll, especially in qualifying and when the available compounds were the hardest ones.
Massa was heavily criticized for his lacklustre performances, both by fans and by Ferrari. However, the Brazilian insists he never lost the will to win, even if he did concede that Alonso was the superior driver in a car that was simply not to his liking - a first for his time at Maranello.
Fernando was better than me but I know my potential and I know that the team believes in me. In the past Ive always had very strong team mates, like Michael (Schumacher) and Kimi (Raikkonen), but Id never found myself in a situation of not being comfortable with the car, as I had in 2010. The critics? They havent hurt me, what troubled me was not having the results I wanted.
The 2011 season presents Massa with a fresh start. New regulations and, perhaps most crucially, a new tyre supplier, mean he and Alonso begin again on a level playing field and the 29-year-old, now going into his sixth year as a Ferrari race driver, knows what he has to do.
My target for this season is simple: to win races and to fight for the title. I know that things didnt go well last year but that is the past. I believe I can return to fight for the crown and I have nothing else in my mind.
There have already been suggestions in the press that 2011 will be a make-or-break season for Massa, that it could be his last for Ferrari if he fails to deliver. However, the man himself insists his self belief is strong enough to shoulder the burden of expectation.
Ive always felt pressure in my career - indeed Im the first to put pressure on myself. You notice external pressure but its much less important. What counts is what you show on the track, inside the cockpit of the car, and how the team makes you feel - and I feel the faith and respect that Ferrari has for me.
I like reading that they speak well of me, I certainly dont deny that, but I think thats the same for everyone. What counts is that I know, if I have a car that suits my characteristics, that I will be able to battle for the title.
Massa wont have to wait long to find out whether Ferraris 2011 machine is to his liking. The new car will be unveiled on January 28, before hitting the track at Spains Valencia circuit on February 1.
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