New Ferrari impresses Massa

  • Last Updated: February 6 2013, 14:56 GMT

Felipe Massa believes the new Ferrari F138 is on "a completely different planet" to last year's car after encouraging early testing at Jerez.

Massa: Happy with new car
Massa: Happy with new car

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With Fernando Alonso opting to enjoy an extended break and miss this opening test of the Formula One season, the onus is on Massa to put the new car through its paces.

The Brazilian completed 64 laps on Tuesday, and finds himself in the car again on Wednesday and Thursday before handing over to reserve Pedro de la Rosa on Friday.

Although only sixth-quickest on day one, finishing 1.8 seconds adrift of Jenson Button in his McLaren, the difference between this year's car and the one unveiled last season was startling for Massa.

A year ago a Ferrari labelled as the ugliest in the team's history was matched by its performance on track, resulting in the Maranello marque playing catch-up throughout testing.

On this occasion the signs are more promising, even if there remain issues as Massa said: "Last year I remember I was struggling a lot to drive the car. It was difficult to keep it on the track.

"This year the base on the car is different. It is more balanced, and I felt a good direction in the middle of the car as well. It didn't lose traction.

"I would say the difference compared to last year is huge. It's a completely different planet.

"But it's only the start, the beginning of another year. We know how important it is to understand the direction of the car from now to the first race."

Massa insisted on several occasions he was "not disappointed" with the car, resulting in a more positive phone call to Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo.

A year ago, after the first day, Massa phoned Di Montezemolo and described the car as "a disaster".

Massa added: "There's relief because maybe this is an indication you are not going to lose time.

"Last year when we drove the car for the first time we lost a lot of time, maybe more than a month of development to fix the issues.

"Not having any issues helps in not losing any time to prepare the car for the first race."

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