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Massa determined to come back stronger in 2011 14 Jan 2011

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Saturday, 6 November 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 12 November 2010 Felipe Massa (BRA), Ferrari. Wrooom 2011, Madonna di Campiglio, Trentino, Italy. 11 January 2011. Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010 (L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari with team mate Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 14 November 2010

Ferrari’s 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 didn’t 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 I’ve always had very strong team mates, like Michael (Schumacher) and Kimi (Raikkonen), but I’d never found myself in a situation of not being comfortable with the car, as I had in 2010. The critics? They haven’t 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 didn’t 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.

“I’ve always felt pressure in my career - indeed I’m the first to put pressure on myself. You notice external pressure but it’s 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 don’t deny that, but I think that’s 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 won’t have to wait long to find out whether Ferrari’s 2011 machine is to his liking. The new car will be unveiled on January 28, before hitting the track at Spain’s Valencia circuit on February 1.

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