(Reuters) - Ferrari's Felipe Massa raised the possibility on Thursday that he could, against the odds, become Formula One's eighth different winner in a row.
The Brazilian, eclipsed by Spain's double world champion Fernando Alonso at the Italian glamour team, has not won a grand prix since 2008 and nor has he stood on any step of the podium since 2010.
In this most unpredictable of seasons, with an unprecedented seven different winners in the first seven races, anything seems believable and, on a sunny Thursday at the European Grand Prix in Valencia, Massa was not about to talk himself out of the reckoning.
"Can I be that eighth winner?" he responded rhetorically to a question at the Spanish Mediterranean port circuit.
"If you look at how many things have changed in this year's races, with strategy and other situations, then many drivers have the chance to win and, sure, I put myself in this category. I would be very happy to be the eighth winner."
The idea might still raise a smile from the media, with Massa struggling to coax a decent performance out of his car, but the signs have been more promising of late even if he remains a huge outsider.
British bookmakers William Hill have him as a 50-1 long shot, compared to 33-1 for Sauber's Mexican Sergio Perez and 12-1 for Frenchman Romain Grosjean in the Lotus as the highest fancied of those yet to win.
Massa won in Valencia in happier times in 2008, the year when he missed out on the title by a single point to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, and has at least scored points in his last two races after drawing a blank in four of the first five.
"We have changed many things on the car, starting with developments that make it better and easier for me to drive," he said.
"Now I feel the car is much more comfortable to drive. When you start the weekend happy with the car, then it helps everything, even the psychological point of view."
Alonso, second in the championship and winner in Malaysia, was supportive of his team mate.
"I have a lot of respect for Felipe," he told a news conference.
"Even from the outside it's difficult to appreciate, what a challenging time he's given to me in the last three years.
"He's getting some good confidence now in the car with the last changes and some tweaks maybe in the set-up but nothing dramatically changed," said Alonso.
"Now it seems we can both be competitive. This is the best news for the team... he's having full support from everybody inside Ferrari and now we are convinced that in the second half of the season we will both be up at the front."
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)