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Massa quickest to quash comeback doubts

Felipe Massa has brushed aside any doubts over his ability to compete again in Formula One by insisting: "I'm 100pc ready to return to racing."

It was a remarkable day for the sport yesterday in pre-season testing in Valencia as the top three on the timesheets were all making a comeback, with Ferrari driver Massa leading the way ahead of Pedro de la Rosa and Michael Schumacher.

Massa's return was highly significant as it was just six months ago he required life-saving surgery after his smash in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Brazilian now bears a four-inch scar above his left eye from where a suspension spring struck him, and a metal plate was later inserted to help repair his fractured skull.

Although Massa has since competed in karting and driven a 2008-spec Ferrari in a recent private test, yesterday was still a landmark day for the 28-year-old. "I'm happy to be back after such a long time watching the races. I feel very good from a physical point of view. I did 100 laps but could have done more.

"After the difficult time, it's always nice to get back on the track and be competitive. For me, the day was normal."

Asked if he was afraid at any stage, he replied: "Zero afraid, and Hungary did not come into my mind at all. It was a very positive day, and the car behaved very well. It felt easier to drive compared to last year when it was always difficult to find the right direction and balance.

"Although this is just one day, at least it was quite positive and easier to find the direction, set-up and balance. But it's not enough. There's still a lot of work to do to improve the car until the first race, which is the most important thing."

Massa raised a smile at the sight of seeing Schumacher in a silver Mercedes after so many years in Ferrari red.

"It was nice, it was fun. We had a nice moment when I passed him at one stage and we waved at each other.

"It's a bit strange to see him in a silver car with his red helmet because it was normal to always see him in red, but we'll get used to it," added Massa.

Schumacher completed 40 laps in the final 90 minutes of the day after team-mate Nico Rosberg had run for 39 laps earlier on during which he had seat issues.

The 41-year-old finished with a time of one minute 12.947seconds, just 0.373secs behind Massa and 0.163secs off De la Rosa, now with Sauber after his many years as a tester for McLaren and three years after his last race in Brazil in 2006, along with Schumacher.