Mar.17 (GMM) - Since his 2008 title challenge and near-fatal crash a season later, Felipe Massa has been almost missing in action.
A late resurgence last year enabled him to keep his seat for 2013, but every pundit sees it as the Brazilian's last chance at the wheel of a red car.
He has started 2013 well. No longer with drooping shoulders in the paddock, the 31-year-old told TV Globo in the Melbourne paddock that he is "happy, super-excited".
"I'm delighted with the fight with Felipe," Ferrari's undisputed number 1 Fernando Alonso told Spanish television Antena 3 on Saturday.
"We are used to 17-2, now it's 0-1."
He is referring to the earlier Alonso versus Massa qualifying whitewash, and the fact that Massa has turned it all around to become the top Ferrari driver of 2013 so far.
"It is quite different to the Felipe Massa at the beginning last year," agreed Massa.
In Australia to support his Finnish charge Valtteri Bottas, double world champion Mika Hakkinen said on Saturday: "I hope it's a good season for Massa.
"Looking back, it's been difficult for him. He has a very challenging teammate."