Aug.20 (GMM) Felipe Massa has been ranked by an authoritative German magazine as the 17th best driver on the 2012 grid after half the season so far.

But the Brazilian, who is fighting to keep his seat at Ferrari after seven consecutive seasons with the famous Italian team, gave his August break a boost at the weekend by going 'P1' at his home Interlagos circuit.

Felipe Massa, Ferrari
Felipe Massa, Ferrari

Photo by: xpb.cc

He was faster than regulars including former Grand Prix driver Christian Fittipaldi during practice for a round of the Brazilian Copa Fiat touring car series.

"Having one set of tyres more than the others helped me but I was not expecting to be quicker than these excellent and experienced drivers," said Massa.

On Auto Motor und Sport's mid-season ranking, however, the 31-year-old was a lowly seventeenth -- 16 places behind his excellent teammate Fernando Alonso and even reportedly outclassed by drivers including Daniel Ricciardo and Vitaly Petrov.

"Many people believe this is the first time I've been in such a situation," Massa is quoted by the Russian website f1news.ru.

"It's not. It happened a lot in the series I did before Formula One -- if I did not win the race then I probably wouldn't have the money to do the next one."

The Auto Motor und Sport ranking was calculated by averaging the scores given by the magazine to each driver following each of the eleven Grands Prix so far in 2012.

Championship leader Alonso's score of 9.09 was the highest, followed by Sebastian Vettel (7.64 out of 10), Lewis Hamilton (7.55) and Kimi Raikkonen (7.27).

Michael Schumacher is sixth with 6.73, McLaren's Jenson Button just twelfth (5.73), and Barcelona winner Pastor Maldonado second-to-last with a score of only 4.45 out of 10.