Massa ready for Villeneuve fight

Sauber ace Felipe Massa believes he is now more than able to cope with the threat he faces in going up against Jacques Villeneuve this season - after confessing that he only showed his true abilities in F1 last season

Massa ready for Villeneuve fight

The Brazilian claims that he only reached a satisfactory performance level last year, after spending the 2003 season out as Ferrari test driver, because his initial debut in F1 in 2002 came after too little time spent in the junior categories.

And that means Massa believes that he is now completely ready for the challenge of fighting against Villeneuve - in what is expected to be an ultra-close contest.

Speaking in an interview with Sauber sponsor Credit Suisse, Massa said: "When I made my debut in Formula 1 in 2002, I was very inexperienced. I made a lot of mistakes because everything happened too fast in my career.

"I arrived in Europe in 2000 to race in Formula Renault and only two years later I was driving a Formula 1 car. I spent a useful year as a Ferrari test driver in 2003 and I could learn a lot inside the best Formula 1 team. I think I'm now much more mature, which has allowed me to mix my natural speed with a more efficient driving."

When asked specifically about his chances of beating Villeneuve, Massa said: "I recognize that I was under fire in my first year. I was criticised because I made mistakes, which were absolutely expected taking into account that I was just a rookie.

"I've improved a lot since then, and the critics have been important in my learning curve. I met Jacques when he raced for Renault last year. The past is the past. The point now is that he seems to be motivated after returning from a sabbatical year. He has a lot of experience that will help the Sauber Petronas team to continue its progress."

He added: "Villeneuve is a world champion and, of course, is going to be a very tough guy to defeat. I look forward to beating him probably as much as he wants to do just the opposite."

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