Alonso backs struggling Ferrari partner Massa

© Joseph Wilson, AP, 21 June 2012
© AP Photo/Luca Bruno

Fernando Alonso is hopeful that Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa has turned the corner on a poor start to the season.

However, Alonso said he'd welcome a new driving partner in the future, including two-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel -- the subject of the latest round of rumours in the paddock surrounding Ferrari's future.

"Felipe is getting some confidence with some tweaks to the car. Now we can both be competitive, and that is the best news for the team," Alonso said at the European Grand Prix on Thursday.

"I have a lot of respect for Felipe. From the outside it is difficult to appreciate what a challenging time he has given me for the past three years."

When pressed, Alonso reiterated that Massa, who has yet to finished better than sixth place this season, had the potential to stay on with the Scuderia.

"He is having the full support from Ferrari," the two-time champion said. "We are convinced that now both of us will be up at the front."

The Ferrari drivers have benefited from an overhaul to their cars after they showed a worrying lack of pace at the beginning of the series.

While Alonso trails leader Lewis Hamilton by just two points heading into Sunday's race in Valencia, Massa has also shown modest improvement in recent outings. But pressure is still mounting on the 31-year-old Brazilian to rediscover his peak form of 2008 when he came within one point of winning the title.

Massa said having a car tuned to his liking has helped him settle down mentally.

"We changed many things in the car. The development has made the car better and another reason is better driving from me as well," he said. "We changed things in the setup and it worked, and the car is more comfortable to drive and I think it was definitely positive for me. When you have a much more comfortable drive it helps everything, even on the psychological side."

Massa was also grateful for Alonso's much needed support.

"It's always better to receive positive things from people who understand more about driving, from people who know what I am capable of," he said.

Practice is on Friday before Saturday's qualifying session on the 5.4-kilometer Valencia street course through the America's Cup harbour.


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