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Ferrari has revealed that following a difficult race in Australia, Felipe Massa will have the benefit of a new chassis in Sepang for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.
Lack of grip and chronic oversteer saw the Brazilian struggling throughout the weekend, the 2008 world championship runner-up failing to make it to Q2 on Saturday.
In the race, having started on softs, he made one stop more than his teammate due to tyre degradation, complaining that the balance of his car was even worse than on Saturday.
"I would not say I was driving aggressively, I was actually trying not to be hard on the tyres," he said, "but there was nothing I could do. Even on the mediums, the situation did not change.
"We must work to understand why we could not reproduce the right balance on the car, as we had for example at the Barcelona tests," he added.
To compound his problems, the Brazilian was involved in a late tangle with countryman Bruno Senna, effectively ending the races of both drivers.
While some believe that the Melbourne weekend is further 'proof' that Massa is no longer the man for Ferrari, the Italian team has leapt to his defence insisting it will do all it can to assist hi,
"Felipe has certainly been the target of criticism after the race in Albert Park," said the Maranello outfit. "But the Brazilian driver is used to this situation and remembers well 2008 when after two races - Australia and Malaysia - he had a zero in the points column and many of the media were calling for him to be fired on the spot. Many of those commentators had to change their minds given that only a few exceptional circumstances - from the piston in Budapest to the pit stop in Singapore to cite the most striking examples - denied him the world championship.
"Felipe knows he can count on the team to do everything, both from the technical and the operational point of view, to put him in a better state to show off his talents - even at the cost of extra work in these few days that separate the Australian race from the one in Malaysia."
The team then reveals that work has already begun in Sepang pits to prepare chassis 294, which replaces the number 293 and will be used by the Brazilian this weekend.
"This choice was taken to clear up any doubts about the unusual performance of his car during the weekend at Albert Park," said the team.
However, reflecting on the Brazilian's performance in Australia, and that of his teammate, it's worth noting an astute observation from Podge 90 on the Pitpass forum: "Massa shows what the car can do; Alonso shows us what he can do."
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