Felipe Massa hopes he will be able to challenge for podium finishes with Williams' new car -- the FW40 -- during the 2017 Formula One season.
The Brazilian, who made a surprise U-turn out of a brief retirement to return to Williams this year, last appeared on the podium at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix, when he finished third. Having recorded 10 podiums during the first two years of F1's hybrid era, Williams only managed a single rostrum appearance in 2016 with Valtteri Bottas' third-place finish in Canada, as the team slipped to fifth in the constructors' championship.
When asked what his goals were for the upcoming season following the second day of the second Barcelona pre-season test, the 35-year-old replied: "Well, a competitive season. A better season than what we saw last year. If we can be fighting for better positions, maybe podiums, it's definitely something we would be happy with but it's too early to say."
Massa topped the timesheets and completed a mammoth 168-lap stint on what was an impressive Tuesday for Williams, before adding a further 63 laps on Wednesday morning. Rookie teammate Lance Stroll took over in the afternoon session as the Grove-based team enjoyed another day of solid mileage. Happy with the day's proceedings, Massa hopes his team has made a step forward in 2017.
"I really hope! That's what we wonder. I really hope that we are more competitive than last year, that we can start the season and finish the season in a better way. We are working for that, but it's too early to say, there's so many other teams working and maybe not showing everything so we need to wait until the first qualifying to see what we expect."
Massa admits driving F1 2017's new breed of cars has proved a greater challenge than in recent years but says they are much more enjoyable to drive.
"From a physical point of view it's for sure harder," Massa explained. "It's definitely a lot harder than last year. You use your body a lot harder in the corners. But it's much nicer, we have much more grip, you are braking later, corners are much quicker than before. From the driver point of view, the enjoyment is a lot nicer, but you work a lot more in the car."