Felipe Massa believes Ferrari will play the team order game in his favour if he gets ahead of Fernando Alonso in this year’s Drivers’ Championship
Last season it was very clear that Massa was the number two driver at Ferrari, supporting Alonso’s title quest.
Not only was the Brazilian, who had a sluggish start to the campaign, told to hold station rather than attack his team-mate but he was also deliberately slapped with a grid penalty in America in order to put Alonso, who was battling Sebastian Vettel for the world title, onto the clean side of the grid.
This season, though, Massa is determined to step out from his team-mate’s shadow.
“I want to return to winning,” he said during Ferrari’s annual Wrooom event. “I want to be competitive from the start and to be fighting for the Championship.”
That was a feat the Brazilian failed at last year as he struggled in the opening half of the campaign. Massa’s form did improve as the season progressed, securing him a further season with Ferrari.
“I just got better inside my brain. It was a big change. It was about understanding that I could do it, even if 90 percent of the people did not think I could.
“It was about believing in myself and not having a good day and a bad day. I know that I can be a champion. That I can win races. I have changed my way of thinking and I am stronger and stronger.”
And if he can continue that form this season and edge Alonso as Ferrari’s main title contender, the 31-year-old is confident the Scuderia and his team-mate will back his bid.
“I can’t imagine a team not wanting two competitive drivers. We are fighting for two titles and I am sure the team will help me if it turns out that my situation was the same as the one that meant Fernando was a contender these past years.
“I remember when Kimi [Raikkonen] was my team-mate and how much we helped one another from one season to the next. It’s the same with Fernando, it’s team work, while the harmony between us is a help, as it would be in any job.
“In Australia we start over from zero and it will all depend on my ability and on the way the Championship pans out. I hope to get off to the best possible start and my aim is always to carry the Brazilian flag onto the highest step of the podium.”
Alonso was asked about the topic and was quick to say he would do whatever was needed for the “good” of the team.
“It would not be the first time and not the last,” said the double World Champion. “We help each other continuously for the good of Ferrari.
“Felipe is one of the best drivers in the world as we saw at the end of 2012. I have been saying that for three years. There has been a big gap in terms of points, but I expect him to be much closer.”