Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has given Felipe Massa notice that he is fighting to save his seat with the team next year.
Montezemolo used an interview on a show in Italy called Politica nel Pallone to confirm that the Brazilian, who almost won the world title three years ago, is safe for next year despite an “unfortunate season” but that he must prove himself to stay with the team beyond next year.
“With Massa we have a contract for next year. He’s had an unfortunate season but we aren’t doubting a driver who three years ago fought for the world title. Let’s hope he closes out this season with some satisfaction in Brazil. Then next year he will fight for his reconfirmation in 2013.”
Massa has won in Brazil twice, including the emotional day in 2008 when he thought he had won the title, only for Lewis Hamilton to pick up the fifth place he needed on the last corner of the last lap to steal it from him. On such tales of triumph and despair are great sportsmen built. But since then it’s been a tale of decline for the Brazilian, who was going along quite well in 2009 until his accident in Hungary. And since then, particularly with the arrival of Fernando Alonso alongside him in 2010, Massa has looked like a shadow of his former self.
Last year Massa scored 57% of the points Alonso scored. This year the ratio is just 44%.
He has been very lucky that the Ferrari has enough of a performance margin ahead of Mercedes and the others that he can be as much as six or seven tenths slower per lap than Alonso and still not lose positions. Were he driving in the midfield, where the margins are tight, with that kind of gap to his team mate he’d be really under the spotlight.
Montezemolo gave the Ferrari team a five out of ten for the season, clearly showing his displeasure at the way the team has been unable to compete for the win at most venues, even if Alonso has had some mighty results against the odds.
“A mark out of ten for our season? I’d give a 5 which I’ll raise to 6 considering the effort and the victory at Silverstone exactly 60 years after Ferrari’s first win in F.1,” he said. “But the season started badly, we didn’t interpret the regulations well and we didn’t take risks in the technology of our project.”
Alonso currently has 245 points, only seven less than he ended last season with and has a chance to finish second. He is therefore likely to end the season on a higher total than 2010. But the chasm that exists between his score and Sebastian Vettel’s is the reality that he and Ferrari face going into next season.
He also reiterated his views about Ferrari wanting Formula 1 rebalanced away from aerodynamics if it is to commit to stay in long term,
“There is a disproportionate influence of aerodynamics, both in sport, as it counts for 90% of the performance, and as regards cost,” he said. “Ours is the only professional sport where tests and training are not carried out. You can’t just move from an high number of tests to zero tests, there is also a happy medium. And why then spend absurd sums of money on aerodynamics and not on tests? What opportunities can we give young drivers to break into the sport and how can they gain experience?”