Felipe Massa has urged Ferrari to fight as if it is competing for victory in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, even if that proves beyond the capabilities of its 2012 car.
Ferrari has been at the center of attention for its difficulties in preseason testing, as it struggled with the F2012. But Massa has called on his team to approach the first race of the season in the same way it would if it had a front-running car, to make sure the Italian squad gets the most out of this weekend.
"We hear so many things that we are not going to fight for the podium here," Massa told reporters on Thursday. "Maybe not. But we need to try everything we can to fight for the podium, to fight for the victory, to fight for the best we can with this car.
"We need to be prepared for everything. It's important to find the right direction to develop this car in a quick way, race by race, week by week. I'm mentally prepared for a difficult start, but also mentally prepared for a good start. We prepare positively."
The Brazilian added that the difficulty of reading into winter testing still gave him some hope that Ferrari is not in as much trouble as it seemed during preseason.
"We were not so happy with the tests, but last year we were very happy with the winter and then we arrived here and we were not happy," he said. "Not just here but the whole season.
"We always need to understand that many things are not clear in the tests. We did a not bad race simulation [at Barcelona], and when you look at that result you don't see that we are completely far away. But in testing you can only be sure of your own car. On Saturday after qualifying, we will have a clear picture, and after the race on Sunday we will know exactly how our car compares to the others."