Felipe Massa has denied that he is under any pressure to restore his reputation in 2011, despite his difficult 2010 season, and pointed out that he had held on to his Ferrari drive for five years despite regular rumors about his future.
The Brazilian was overshadowed by his new teammate Fernando Alonso this year, finishing 108 points behind the Spaniard in the standings. With 2009 having been spoiled by Ferrari's lack of competitiveness and his head injury, Massa has now gone over two years without a race win.
Earlier this season he was re-signed through 2012, despite speculation that other drivers were being considered as replacements, but rumors that his seat was under threat continued to linger. However Massa said at today's Ferrari World Finals event at Valencia that he was relaxed about his situation.
"I don't think 2011 signifies a crucial year for me," he insisted. "Fundamentally, I have been in this situation often.
"I remember that at the start of 2006, many people said I would only last a year at Ferrari and then I won races that season and went on to stay for a long time more. In 2008, there was a lot of pressure, especially at the start, but I managed to cross the line at the end of the final race as World Champion [before Lewis Hamilton's last-gasp move on Timo Glock saw him snatch the title instead].
"This year, there were many who said I would have a difficult year after my accident in Budapest, it turned out that way, but not for that reason."
Massa added: "Over the years, the names of at least 10 drivers have been put forward as replacements for me at Ferrari, but I am still here!"
The Brazilian regularly cited issues with getting temperature into the 2010 Bridgestones as the main cause of his disappointing season, and hoped that next year's switch to Pirellis would cure this. His confidence was then boosted when he topped the times in the first test of the new tires in Abu Dhabi last week.
"First impressions are very positive," said Massa of the Pirellis. "The tires immediately worked well, without the need to drastically change the car setup. Sure, there is still work to do, but it was a really good day."