Ferrari can head into the Brazilian Grand Prix with a level of confidence about its chances of fighting Red Bull wheel-to-wheel after an encouraging opening day of practice, reckons Felipe Massa.
Although Lewis Hamilton topped the times in both practice sessions, Ferrari was boosted by the fact that Massa produced the best long-run form of the day.
That result, allied to the fact Massa made a mistake on his fastest lap so could go even quicker over a single lap, has left the Brazilian upbeat about the potential for the season finale. His team-mate Fernando Alonso will try to overturn Sebastian Vettel's 13-point world championship lead this weekend.
Click here for Mark Hughes' full analysis of Friday practice form
When asked by AUTOSPORT if Ferrari was more confident about its form than of late, he replied: "I think so. Definitely the car was OK on the long runs, it was good.
"I expected even higher degradation than I had on the long run. Even on my best lap I went too wide in corner two and I was over the kerbs, so I lost a couple of tenths by doing that.
"On the next lap I was two tenths quicker than my best on that sector and I think my laptime was supposed to be two tenths quicker - but on the long run we were able to do everything normally. It was pretty good and competitive.
"I was happy and I hope this can be a good help if we have a race in the dry, which I don't think it will be. If it will be in the dry we know the car is competitive, at least it was competitive, so we need to see how Red Bull and McLaren will be tomorrow."
Although it looks almost certain that Sunday's race will take place in the wet, Massa reckons Ferrari is unlikely to run anything other than run a full dry set-up in qualifying to try and get the best grid spot.
"We cannot give away performance in qualifying, we cannot do that," he said about the chances of Ferrari opting for a wet set-up on Saturday. "We need to prepare the car to be as quick as possible, especially as I was suffering a lot of oversteer in the morning.
"The afternoon got a bit better so if I put the car for the wet, I don't think it will be very good for qualifying. And even if you start behind it is a problem. You don't see anything by being behind, so I don't think we are in that position."
VETTEL WINS THE TITLE IF:
- He finishes in the top four
- He finishes fifth, sixth or seventh and Alonso doesn't win
- He finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso is third or lower
- He finishes 10th or worse and Alonso isn't on the podium
ALONSO WINS THE TITLE IF:
- He wins and Vettel is fifth or lower
- He is second and Vettel eighth or lower
- He is third and Vettel is 10th or lower