VALENCIA, Spain, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher, once brothers in arms but now Formula One rivals, returned to the racetrack on a day of comebacks on Monday.
Both the Brazilian and the German had moments when they thought their eyes were deceiving them but the lap times in Valencia were real enough.
"I suddenly see my old car on the track and I'm not sitting in it, and it is a strange sensation, but it's good to see my brother on track, in the car," declared Schumacher, returning with Mercedes three years after retiring as a Ferrari driver, of his former team mate.
"It's a bit strange to see a silver car with a (driver wearing a) red helmet," said Massa, making his own comeback six months after suffering life-threatening head injuries in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
"It was normal to always see him in red, but we'll get used to it.
"It was nice, it was fun," he said of sharing the track with the German. "We also had a nice moment when I was passing him and we waved at each other."
Schumacher and Massa raced together at Ferrari in 2006 and forged a strong bond, with the German staying in regular contact after retirement.
Monday was Massa's first day back in an up-to-date car and on a track with others since the accident.
"I'm happy to be back after such a long time watching the races on television, and sometimes at the track," he said.
"It was a very positive day, the car behaved very well. We managed to start and finish our programme as expected, and even do more laps than expected, so everything went very well.
"The car felt easier to drive compared to last year when it was always difficult to find the right direction and balance," added Massa.
"This is just one day, but at least today was quite positive and easier to find the direction, setup 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 said he had no fear, no flashbacks and was 100 percent ready to race.
"For me, today was normal."
Editing by John Mehaffey; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org