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Montezemolo puts Massa on notice to raise his game
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Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Nov 2011   |  9:13 am GMT  |  135 comments

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?”

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135 Comments
  1. Buterfly says:

    The problem lies with the team principal throwing in the towel year after year. He just doesn’t understand the meaning of development.

  2. Ayrton Mansell says:

    I fully agree with the boss, sadly Massa is not the same driver post his accident, and his results are showing. I think Kimi R would do well to serve at Williams to get back into the groove and then slide back into support role in 2013 at Ferrari with Alonso!

    1. wayne says:

      He hasn’t been the same driver since Germany last year when the team moved him over and he publically capitulated either.

      1. Mingojo says:

        Excuses, excuses…Alonso is better than Kimi in my opinion, and what happened last year in Germany was necessary.

      2. wayne says:

        I’m certainly not making excuses for him. What happened in Germany last year was not necessary, it was simply advisable.

      3. Rodrigo Visconti says:

        A real champion would have passed on the track. Without that whining on the radio.
        It was not only unnecessary. It was ridiculous for Alonso and Ferrari.

        But i agree that this could not be a excuse for lack of performance.

        Se you guys in Interlagos!

      4. Nqwazi says:

        I agree if they had let him take that win he would be a different driver today.

      5. HansB says:

        If that would be true then it reveals a very weak point in Massa’s character. Instead of fighting even harder for his place, with what you say, he threw the towel in the ring.
        And don’t come up with self-confidence… if you can not leave this Germany incident behind after 1,5 years then in F1 there is no seat for you.

    2. smellyden says:

      I dont think Kimi would ever go back to Ferrari now!

      1. herowassenna says:

        Ferrari got rid of him, what makes you think they’d want him back??

    3. Brad says:

      CRAZZZZYYYY idea

      1. Ayrton Mansell says:

        Not so he is the last world champion to have raced with Ferrari. No driver has done it since!

      2. Brad says:

        support role for Alonso when Raikkonen is clearly more talented? I think not

    4. Nathan says:

      agree with Kimi using 2012 to get back in the groove but think he’ll slip into Webbers seat.

      1. Chris says:

        It makes sense. Renault engines in a Williams. Redbull sponsor his rallying. He will take a shed load of sponsors to Williams. He gets back in the groove and slides into Webbers shoes on 2013.

    5. Douglas says:

      Kimi and Ferrari are like oil and water…

      1. MAS says:

        Agreed, he would float above al the murky water that is Ferrari’s inter-team politics and happily facus on his own racing (or pootling, depending on his mood).

        (I don’t actually think it’ll happen though)

      2. nino says:

        Should not be forgot the the only title won by Kimi was with a Ferrari.
        He was at McLaren for 5 years and won nothing.

      3. mo kahn says:

        Kimi will be best served at Williams, with Renault back in its stable, I think Williams will improve by leaps and bounds.

        Of course, it all depends on Kimi signing the contract :)

      4. Ayrton Mansell says:

        Just remember he is the last World Champion with and for Ferrari

  3. Michael Cerroti says:

    Ferrari without Felipe, I carn’t see it.

    1. wayne says:

      We all got used to Ferrari without Schumi, I don’t see why loosing FM would be a particularly big deal… Massa has come across whiny and petulent this year alongside his poor results. He almost never makes any progress during the race itself.

  4. goferet says:

    Uh, with this life-line Montezemolo has just given Massa for 2013 & beyond, it appears Ferrari are giving up on Kubica for what I gathered is Kubica was to replace Massa from 2013.

    The way I see it, this is just delaying the inevitable for the pre-2009-crash Massa is never coming back for some events change us for good

    Anyway, despite all it’s faults, Ferrari appear to be loyal to drivers & team principals (the ones they like of course) for any other team would have given Massa his marching orders by now.

    Regarding this season, I would give Ferrari 30% in terms of performance & give Alonso 90% in effort for how can a team such as this win only 1 race – Incredible!!!

    And if I were Montezemolo, I wouldn’t be too optimist about 2012 & beyond for looking at my archives, Ferrari didn’t win a single race in 1992 & worse Prost didn’t race that season.

    Yes, Alonso fans should just keep their fingers crossed nothing bad happens to the Spaniard during the off season.

    One thing I will agree with Montezemolo though is that F1 needs to bring back testing – at least limited testing. Of course this confirms the fact that Mclaren are the best team at developing cars in-season

    1. Aussie Rod says:

      …and with the resources at their disposal one of the worst at producing them out of the box.

    2. Jesper Mathias Nielsen says:

      With the risk adverse culture apparently characterising the Ferrari organization, I gotta admit I can’t really see them employing one crash-struck driver in favor of another.
      I’m not saying Kubica is bound to slide down the same path Massa, but it’s a risk that may or may not be taken into account.

      1. Borg says:

        I’m a huge Kubica fan, but this is absolutely a true point.

        I actually doubt Kubica will even be back.

        It’s time Ferrari puts a hungry young driver in that second seat. Like they did with Massa long long time ago.

    3. “Of course this confirms the fact that Mclaren are the best team at developing cars in-season”

      Where are you getting this from? McLaren were horrible in developing their car last season and fell back at a crucial point in the championship, relegating their drivers to 4th and 5th in the championship.

      This season they have been alright. They’ve done a marginally better job than Red Bull and Ferrari stopped developing their car long ago.

      Please don’t pull up 2009 because their car was so bad to start off with, they only really had one direction to go with it.

      1. DK says:

        McLaren were horrible in developing their car last season …..

        Ever since the team threw in the kitchen sink…??

      2. kidVermin says:

        Hisham, the (F)150th Italia was good in testing and then at the first race the speed disappeared. THat car, fundamentally had good speed just a tyre warming issue that manifested itslf with the harder compounds. Ferrari Gave up on something with potential this year. IN 2009 The F60 was not as bad as the MP4-24 at the beginning, yet they only won at SPa a Power Circuit (Had there not been a safety car, Force India would most probably have a win to their name today), MP4-24 won in Hungary and other circuits as well, Probably wud have done the same in Abu-Dhabi had the Brakes not given up. Wen you say – “Please don’t pull up 2009 because their car was so bad to start off with, they only really had one direction to go with it” THAT statement of yours is ill at best, MP4-24 was about 3seconds off the pace at the beginning of the season and a race winner by the end of it, F60 had less of a deficit to overcome but owed much of its single win in 2009 to a first Lap accident and KERS.

      3. The 150 Italia was hampered by a number of things at the beginning of the season, the biggest being the fact that it was designed to run on a different type of tyre than what was eventually raced come Australia. It had tyre warming issues because it was supposed to warm up a tyre that was much more delicate. The wind tunnel issue is also well documented and with no in-season testing, such a deficiency practically kills of any hope of a competitive season.

        I agree the F60 had less of a deficiency than the MP4-24 but in the end, McLaren’s wins were also KERS dependent. And why shouldn’t they? McLaren and Ferrari spent fortunes on developing the system so why shouldn’t they win because of it. No way would have Hamilton overtaken Webber in Hungary if it wasn’t for KERS.

        My original point was that after 2009, McLaren considered themselves the gods of in-season development but then fell-down badly in 2010. A lot of it has to do with how far back you are at the beginning of the season and how much money you have to burn on wind-tunnels.

        Neither team however, has figured out how to create a car that’s fast right from the start since the regulations changed and if they plan on winning anything, that’s how they’re going to do it.

      4. kidVermin says:

        WOuldn’t you celebrate a good year of development, Infact 2009 was a fantastic year of development for MP4-24, I would definately celebrate that, Youre probably unhappy because you couldn’t celebrate anything about the F60, neither its pace out of the box, nor its development. But you can certainly be proud of F10, good pace and development, 150th Good Pace but not so much development.

        Both McLaren and Ferrari need to start making them good out of the BOX from now on, or they need to find a way to distract NEWEY over at RedBull. They should hire someone whose sole job would be to pRank Call the RedBull office asking for Adrian every 5min.

    4. Adam says:

      I would say the writing is very clear on this wall. Massa come back in the spring getting solid results (that means wins, tough for the number two driver) OR we will toss you out as soon as Kubica is fit to drive, mid season. I expect that Kubica will soon be pounding around in a two year old Ferrari being given an “opportunity” to see if he is still fit enough for F1. If Kubica can bounce back better than Massa post accident, and most observers take it as read he can, then Massa is done. Ferrari have just given him notice in public. Massa is likely to crumble under pressure, so McLaren need to give Hamilton the wheels to get away from him next year or he will be sucked into Massa’s extinction vortex!

      1. Buterfly says:

        Kubica nearly lost hos life and his right hand. The man can barely move his fingers and you’re talking about getting back to F1 in a Ferrari?

        It was difficult for Schumacher to drive after three years and without injuries, even Raikkonnen would struggle after two years. Kubica’s F1 career is over.

      2. KGBVD says:

        At last report, Kubica has full mobility of all of his fingers except for his middle one (HA!); he has almost a full range of motion in his wrist and has been driving road cars for months now.

        Schumacher came back from injury to win 5 further championships — I really don’t see what his 3 year hiatus has to do with Kubica’s situation (and the fact that he is effectively beating NR this year kinda flies in the face of your argument), or your speculation that Kimi won’t do well either.

      3. Borg says:

        Schumi had a slight neck injury if you remember.

        Schumi’s broken leg is different than a nerly amputated hand.

        I agree with you doubts that we’ll see Kubica. But he is damn determined, and has friends in high places. Bernie would like to see him in a Ferrari you can bet. Who knows. only time will tell. At least we’ll have something to talk about over the winter.

      4. Robert says:

        @KGBVD – how on earth did you conclude that Schumi is beating Rosberg? Rosberg has finished higher 10 times, thus locking up the teammate war. He has out qualified Shumi 15-3, which is a thorough butt whoopin. So explain how you reached your conclusion.

        @Buterfly – Kimi out of F1 for a couple of years vs. Schumi out for 3 is not comparing apples to oranges. Kimi was known for massive raw talent and a lack of drive. Schumi was known for massive drive and a bit of talent. The past rules regarding testing and tire development, along with clear #2 status at Ferrari, are the primary reason he won as many titles as he did.

      5. KGBVD says:

        I arrived at my conclusion my watching the races and making an assessment. Points and finishes only give you part of the story (it’s people who focus on stats that think that NH is a better driver than RK, or that FM is in anyway decent thanks to 2008). MS has outraced NR fantastically over the 2nd half the season, hence “effectively beating” him.

    5. CraigD says:

      What’s 1992 got to do with anything? I hope you’re not making some ridiculous numbers link to 2012 just because they both end in 2?!

    6. mark says:

      @ goferet just like to point out prost wouldn’t have won a race in 1992 as he did not race that year he was sacked by ferrari and retired for a year before coming back and winning the title in 1993 for williams

    7. Simon Donald says:

      I too agree that I thought Ferrari would install Kubica within the team 2013, but based on how Massa has struggled to reach the pace he had pre-2009 crash it will be interesting to see if Kubica can reach his own peak again.

      With Alonso the definitive number 1 at Ferrari, I dear say he may have some say who he would like as a 2nd driver, so we could still see Kubica there (as they are friends) or possibly Perez….

    8. vitaly says:

      he is not giving him a lifeline, he is preparing to drop him next season. this is a man who fought for the championship for ferrari, has always been loyal to the team, is supposedly well liked by the people he is working with and nearly died driving one of their cars. whats worse, when he seemed to get his form back and fought for victory in germany last year, ferrari stabbed him in the back, in order to have alonso win. firing him is therefore not an easy task, which i guess is the reason he is sill driving a ferrari. but by officially saying that he is now fighting for his seat, montezemolo makes it so that nobody can complain when they dump massa at the end of next season. they gave him two seasons to prove himself, and now he’s got a third because kubica injured himself.

      1. Max Smoot says:

        Have to agree…Massa’s efforts for the red team are unimpeachable. The ‘Fernando is faster than you’ incident in Germany 2010 was an outrage and told the world what Ferrari are really all about. Amazing that Massa could hold his head up after that humiliation.

      2. Buterfly says:

        You make it sound like driving a Ferrari F1 car is a dangerous job!

      3. Andy C says:

        I think its more racing against one is a dangerous job isnt it ;-)

      4. herowassenna says:

        [mod] , Ferrari done what every other team has been doing since team-orders were banned, ie, its a team sport. Drivers drive for the TEAM

        You honestly think Kovalainen letting by Lewis in Germany 08 wasn’t team orders??

    9. Brent McMaster says:

      What about Ferrari in 2002.

    10. herowassenna says:

      !) Mclaren have to be good at development, they can’t steal Ferrari’s data anymore, and they usually start off with a terrible car.
      Testing last winter, Mclaren were 1.3seconds off the pace. They took an untested exhaust to Melbourne and competed.
      What was interesting, they turned up with various developments throughout the year which actually made no improvements at all.
      At Silverstone, when blown exhausts were banned, Mclaren were 1.3 seconds off the pace… fancy that!

      2) 1992… what the…..they didn’t win in 1990 or 1993 either…

  5. glen says:

    In regards to the last paragraph; I think he has a very valid point.

  6. Rob Newman says:

    The situation regarding Massa is nothing new. But what Ferrari doesn’t understand is, what exactly went wrong with Massa. The team destroyed his head by bringing Alonso and giving him everything; even taking Massa’s toys and giving it to Alonso.

    Just to prove that he can do a better job, Massa is now over-driving and in the process destroying his tyres early or hitting something on the way.

    A simple crash in the middle of the race destroys him mentally. He just keeps thinking about that throughout the race and keeps seething inside the helmet instead of concentrating.

    Ferrari as a team needs to understand his weaknesses and needs and give him the support he needs. Otherwise, there won’t be any change in 2012.

    Once Massa leaves, I really can’t understand who actually wants to go and play second fiddle to Alonso at Ferrari. No self-respecting driver would do that. Driving for Ferrari may be a prestige but it comes with a price.

    1. garoidb says:

      Are there any circumstances under which Massa can consistently perform at the same level as Alonso is currently reaching? Unless the answer to this is yes, Ferrari are right to prioritise Alonso, and minimise interference from Massa. If this perturbs Massa, he needs to sort that out within himself.

      Also, there will be no shortage of drivers willing to join Alonso at Ferrari.

      Ferrari have been patient with Felipe, perhaps because of his accident, but no-one has a divine right to a Ferrari seat.

      1. Duane says:

        Nicely said. The rubbish about Ferrari destroying Massa with Alonso is just that – rubbish! Massa needs to get his head in the game. When he’s not as fast as Alonso, he must start thinking of the team first not on how he can keep his faster teammate behind him.

        The goal is to maximize the points haul for Ferrari not Felipe! If Massa were to finish 1 position behind Alonso for every race next season he would earn his keep.

        He won’t.

  7. MISTER says:

    I completely agree with your last paragraph from Luca’s quote.
    Is absurd the importance of aerodinamics. Was just looking at some old F1 races last weekend and is like I was watching a different sport. The front wings were so tiny.
    F1 needs to balance things a bit and put back in-season testing on a budget basis. this will not only help the teams understand where they go wrong, but also give some new drivers a chance of being noticed and maybe given a chance in the future.

    I am a big F1 fan, and will always follow the sport, but for someone new, I cannot see them understand why there’s the big diferences in performance between teams.

    This needs to be looked into.

    1. Rob Newman says:

      Personally I am wondering why Montezemolo is grumbling about no testing. Didn’t they all agree to that in the first place? Isn’t it the same for all the teams?

      He is moaning only because his team is not winning.

      1. [MISTER] says:

        What makes you think the others don’t want SOME and RESTRICTED testing? Also, what makes you think that controlled testing will make Ferrari win?

      2. Rob Newman says:

        @MISTER, did I say that others don’t want some restricted testing? Did I say that controlled testing will make Ferrari win?

        The glory days of Ferrari are gone. They are simply basking in their past glory.

    2. Andy C says:

      The issue is (and I’m not saying it was wrong or illegal at the time), Ferrari had their own F1 test facility and put in so much mileage during the schumacher years.

      I’m fully in favour of designated days (as many as 10 per season) for testing. And only 6 of those to be done by the current drivers. The remaining 4 additional days must be done by young drivers.

  8. Richard Head says:

    Of the six drivers in the top 3 teams, its always Massa at the bottom. I expect it will be the same in 2013, meaning the best Ferrari can realistically hope for is 3rd in the constructors championship.

    1. Mitchel says:

      Massa and Webber are in close competition for this bottom ranking in my book!

      1 win versus zero, or 11 wins versus zero?

      1. Rob Newman says:

        It will be 12 wins versus zero :)

      2. TheLegend says:

        It’s 10 podiums versus zero or 16 podiums versus 9?
        It’s 69’4% team points achieved against 30’6 or 61’6% team points achieved against 38’4?

        Decision looks pretty clear to me…

      3. Mebz says:

        And of the top three teams, massa drives the third fastest car….. so what you are saying is, massa is slower than alonso, like some would rightly argue every other driver in f1.

        Is the problem, alonso is to good?

      4. herowassenna says:

        Not too good, just the greatest driver since may 1994

      5. KRB says:

        Are you saying Alonso? May 1994?!?! Did you mean 2004?

    2. Andrew says:

      To be fair to Massa he has only the 3rd best car so we should expect to see him 5th or 6th. Alonso outperforms the Ferrari by beating Webber or the Mclarens. In fact it’s difficult to see any other driver doing any better than Massa up against Alonso unless they signed Hamilton or a completely recovered Kubica.

      Massa is certainly doing a much better job than Webber is!

  9. forzaminardi says:

    Same old story for Massa – the boss gives him another chance, but yet again he’ll be uselessly mediocre and serve only to hamper Alonso’s chances. Ferrari are surely kicking themselves for giving him such a long deal last time around.

  10. Snowy says:

    James – how different, or alike, are Massa and Alonso’s driving style or car preference?

    I was wondering if Massa’s ‘decline’ in performance can be partly explained by Ferrari having thrown all their support behind Alonso, who is clearly their favoured son, with the direction of car development similarly being in favour of Alonso’s preferences. Is it that Massa must increasingly cope with a car that just doesn’t suit him as much as it did a couple of seasons ago?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not that similar. It’s about being adaptable in any case. The best drivers are adaptable

      1. Snowy says:

        Absolutely true, but it can’t help if you’re having to continually ‘supress’ your own natural style to adapt to someone else’s. Look at the efforts Mercedes have made to bring their car around to suit Schumacher’s style more.
        Ultimately though, we are only talking about the smallest fractions of a second difference in lap times.

      2. Paww says:

        It’s well documented that Jenson Button has to have a car that is perfect in it’s setup to be able to perform at his best.

        So by the logic of your comment does that mean Button does not rank up there with the best?

      3. kidVermin says:

        James surely there is a difference between being adaptable and having to adopt a new approach to driving fast. I look at hamilton and i feel that current regulations have actually robbed him of some speed, I’ll never forget Hamilton dancing that MP4-22 on a knife edge in Monaco in 2007, that was beautiful, one characteristic of Hamiltons is that he mutilates his Tyres which worked well when we had everlasting Bridgestones but now that we have Bubblegum Pirrelis some guys have to adapt while others have to adopt entirely new approachs to racing.

    2. K says:

      Re: Snowy
      When Alonso drove the F10 in 2010, the car was in no way designed for Alonso yet he was right up there challenging for the WDC at the end of the seasson.

      So what James Allen said is correct.

    3. Anup Kadam says:

      Just wanted to update you that last years i.e Ferrari 2010 car was built around Felipe Massa still we was not able to cope or match the pace of Fernando Alonso thats call adaptability…which Fernando showed last year…So its obvious that if he is the driver that can give Ferrari a championship then they have to built the car with fernando`s liking…and its the same with all the others teams…

  11. Jon says:

    No body can argue that Massa hasn’t delivered this year, or last year either. It wouldn’t be a shock if he isn’t in the car at the start of the season.
    As for the testing ban, Ferrari always had the resources for extensive testing, so I’m not surprised that he wants a return if testing.
    I would like a return of testing for teams in the lower order on a Monday after a couple of GP weekends to help the development to those teams.

    1. MISTER says:

      Hi Jon. Do you think F1 is going in the right direction with this overwhelmingly high dependance on aerodinamics.
      We could have in-season testing on a budged basis so teams can actually test their new parts and use the friday and Saturday practice to learn the track, tyres and get the right setup for the race instead of testing new components.

      Ofc I do not want testing like back in Schumi years, that would be unfair on the smaller teams.

      1. Jon says:

        I think Ferrari had access to 2 of their own testing tracks. So to an extent they had the ability to test when ever they wanted. In season testing could be related to how the team finished the previous season-Champions least testing, bottom of the table most.
        I also think there is too much dependance on aerodynamics. It reduces overtaking due to the effect of dirty air on the car which is following so its perfomance is reduced. I would like to see cars without all the little ‘add ons’ which usually break off in mior contacts and cause problems with following cars. I loved to see the cars of the 80′s sliding through corners and the drivers skill saving themselves from the gravel traps.

  12. Fraser says:

    On one hand Ferrari shackle their second driver with team orders, on the other they criticise him for not doing as well as their first driver.
    I’m no fan of Massa after his outbursts this year, but he hasn’t been given a full hand to play with. Equally, Alonso’s results have been artificially boosted by their driver strategy.
    If and when Ferrari treat both drivers equally, we’ll see how the two compare. But pigs will fly before that happens.

    1. Spinodontosaurus says:

      They were allowed to race in Korea quite clearly. Ok, so Alonso came out on top, but the gap between them was much, much smaller than usual.
      Also note Canada, in the wet Massa was all over the back of Alonso until the latter pitted.

    2. AA says:

      Just check the quali performances as they are not affected by team strategy. You will see Alonso consistently quicker than Massa.

      Massa is the perfect No 2 driver. Great for Alonso fans who’d rather seen Massa in red than someone like Rosberg.

  13. Andrew Carter says:

    I’m not surprised Montezemolo is publicaly giving Massa the hurry up, again, as he’s frankly been poor these last 2 years. Unlike most people, I dont hink the 09 accident has overly affected his performance, I never rated him as one of the best drivers out there anyway. The fact is that Alonso is extremely quick, tenacious, determined and motivated as well as being far moe adaptable to the handleing characteristics of any car he’s given, making him a big step up on Raikkonen, who is probably faster but lacks in many other areas.

    Massa’s head probably isnt in a good place with the constant pounding he’s taking from Alonso, which is probably exagerating the gap between them, but there’s no mistake that Alonso is by far the better driver and with Ferrari offering Kubica the chance to test an old car when he’s ready to get back behind the wheel, I think Ferrari are clearly looking at removing one of their weak links within the next year.

    1. herowassenna says:

      Head taking a pounding, I wonder does anybody remember an Eddie Irvine quote when he was Schumachers team-mate.
      Irvine was intelligent enough to recognise Schumi was different league to him.
      He once said,
      “Being a team-mate to Schumacher is like being hit over the head with a cricket bat every two weeks”

      The problem is Massa isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, and Alonso is awesome

    2. Rishi says:

      Good points. I agree that he had always had something lacking against the very best but I admired the way he was willing to take the feedback on board and learn from those around him at Ferrari; his self-improvement 2006-09 was really good to watch and at his peak round then I do think he was one of the top five drivers in the sport (I’m thinking 2008 particularly here).

      It’s true that there has been an Alonso effect, and it is probably a leadership issue as well as a speed one. With Raikkonen there was a bit of a void in leadership at Ferrari from the driver and that suited Massa & Rob Smedley – who partly filled that void and worked hard to justify it by beating Raikkonen on the racetrack. Contrastingly, when Alonso came in he showed his leadership and was quicker than Felipe hence got the team on his side/developing the car in his direction and that probably left Massa feeling more isolated than he had been before during his Ferrari career.

      2011 has been very disappointing for him and I feel the more recent accidents with Hamilton (and also his reaction to them) in Japan and India were more indicative of his current frame of mind than Lewis’. 2012 could be his last year in a very competitive car so it’s essential for him to hit the reset button over the winter and come back refocused next Spring. Often I have struggled to reconcile “Massa 2011 Version” with the continuously improving guy who so impressed me three or four years ago.

  14. Richard says:

    Massa’s name in recent times had become synominous with Ferrari, but I have to agree that since his accident he has been in decline. Unfortunately a blow to the head such as he experienced can make it very difficult to sustain the focus necessary for consistently good results. There have been flashes of the old Massa, but nothing sustained. – I hope he can raise his game next year.

    1. KGBVD says:

      If you mean that people know that Massa drives for Ferrari, sure. But “Massa’s name in recent times had become synonimous with Ferrari” is a bit much. Perhaps synonymous with under-performing, being an also-ran, constantly failing to live up to his team’s/fan’s/own expectation, sure. The only “flashes of the old Massa” occur when we get to watch him spin around dozens of times in P6-10 on a wet track.

      You say “Scudiera Ferrari”, and you think Schumacher, Alonso, Mansell, Lauda, etc. I don’t even think Massa would be in the top 10 drivers named.

      1. Richard says:

        Well I suppose I meant he had been there a long time, while others had moved on. Presumeably Ferrari thought he had merit, but I suppose his best year was 2008. The thing you should bear in mind is that not many drivers reach the dizzy heights of the best in F1. He’s driven some very good races in the past such as Brazil 2008, so in view of his accident give the guy a break as 2012 will be his last chance with the team.

      2. garoidb says:

        2012 will be his seventh season with Ferrari, which is more than anyone but Schumi, I think. Before that, he tested for them for a year (2003 I think), and had a long term contract. By running him for two years, they have given him a fair chance to get back to his best and he may yet get back to the necessary level next year. But if he doesn’t, Ferrari will need to act. Also, in that scenario, it could be better for him to try out a different team.

      3. herowassenna says:

        I don’t think Ferrari thought he had merit.
        He was brought in by Jean Todt and his son Nicolas, who happens to be Massa’s manager, to replace another number 2, Barrichello.

        Massa was never signed because he’s a leader or because he’s a great driver. He is a number 2. The problem was Kimi was so indifferent during his 3 years there, that Massa looked better than he actually was.

        Alonso has destroyed him.

      4. Richard says:

        There’s no doubt that Alonso has outperformed the post accident Massa, but Massa has qualified above Alonso on occasion, and let’s not forget was ordered to move over for Alonso.
        Jean Todt was of course part of Ferrari, but I don’t believe they would put someone in a seat without merit because it affects their chances in the constructors. Massa has been a good driver if not the best. Alonso on the other hand is one of the very best in F1 so the comparison is a bit unfair. I hope Massa can raise his game in 2012 to pre-accident levels.

      5. KGBVD says:

        I think a very important point is that, in the one instance where Massa was asked to move over, Alonso was behind him. How many times does Massa finish RIGHT behind Alonso? He’s usually much further down the pack.

        Massa is the latest in a line of Ferrari also-rans. The last decent driver pairing they had was Berger and Alesi. Since then, there has been a parade of mediocrity in the 2nd car (Irvine, Barrichello, Massa, Badoer, Fisicella).

        While I like the idea of RK in the Ferrari (if he is fit enough), Ferrari have their next nonthreatening also-ran (Bianchi) in the wings should they need him.

      6. Richard says:

        Massa as far as we know has only been instructed once by the team to move over for Alonso, but I think has actually let him pass more than that if I remember correctly. I think by the end of 2012 Ferrari will have given Massa as much opportunity as they can to recover his form. Let’s not forget in 2008 Massa drove well and very nearly won the championship. – I’m not for kicking a man when he’s down! Alonso on the other hand is currently in good form and is one of the best on the grid. While I hope Kubica will recover from his unfortunate accident, how good will he be post accident when or if he returns? It was a rather stupid thing that Renault did in allowing him to rally. – Just ridiculous!

  15. Ben says:

    Even with the performance advantage the Ferrari has over the cars behind Massa has by far and away the worst record against his team mate in terms of places finished behind his teammate when both finished. As of India he had a median of 4 and a mean of 3.5. (In Abu Dhabi he finished 3 places behind Alonso so this won’t have changed much) The next worst drivers were Webber and Hamilton, who had half Massa’s deficit to their team mates. Given that the Ferrari is effectively in performance isolation this is a truly shocking performance. The fact that the midfield drivers have deficits of approximate 1-1.5 places against their team mates where they are competing over a much wider range of places I can’t believe that Ferrari are continuing to keep him in a race seat for 2012, if I was were Montezemolo I would be on the phone to Peter Sauber and exchanging him with Perez at the first opportunity.

    1. kidVermin says:

      150th Italia on HARD COMPOUNDS is in performance isolation, the same car on SOFTS is something scary for McLaren atleast if not RedBull as well.

      1. Spinodontosaurus says:

        Massa especially seems to stuggle on harder compounds, hence his struggle lasy year with the concrete Bridgestones.

  16. Janis says:

    Well, it’s easy to do Massa-bashing now.
    However, one has to remember the way Ferrari is operating: everything for the No. 1 driver, while No. 2 (after a certain point in the season) is race-testing various new concepts and race strategies.
    It used to work just fine in Schumi years, and looking at the wobbly front wing on one Ferrari car (Massa) and quite a rigid one on another (Alonso) I can’t help thinking it’s the same story all over again.
    Also, Massa is a bit like Barrichello: he needs to believe internally that he can win, and that his team believes he can win and is doing all they can to help him do it. Without this belief he can’t perform to his full potential.
    So, it’s not so surprising Massa don’t have as many points as he should have had.
    That being said, he can only blame himself for some of his adventures with Lewis, for example :)

    1. TheBestPoint? says:

      Some of the incidents with Lewis were stupidly short shighted of him (and his Engineer it must be said).

      Instead of trying to show how hard he could race the Mclaren driver if he would have been better served by racing normally, not only would he have been able to score higher (with an intact car) but Lewis potentially could have gone on to limit Alonso’s score.

      Voila! A more respectable and acceptable point gap between them.

      All his sacrifice clearly not appreciated by the team.
      Certainly not his cry baby post-race interviews.

      Alonso’s recent comments about Lewis (2008) combine to put the boot in.

  17. Ohm says:

    But surely the money the team saves from having less focus on aero won’t go into testing, it’ll go into other areas of development. So I don’t agree with him implying they should cut aero development and put that money into testing. Or..did I just misunderstood him? :P

  18. B Martin says:

    Wasn’t the same article posted last year?

    As for Ferrari’s lack of pace, it is not due to lack of risk. It is lack of innovation. This has been the case for several years as they have played copy cat more than anyone. I don’t see this magically changing next year.

    1. K says:

      Any team from second or below are copycats.

      Look at McLaren 2010 before and after first race, again again in 2011.
      Look at Team Lotus this year and compare it with last year’s Mercedes, etc.

      1. B Martin says:

        Yes, all are copy cats, but when was the last time people were talking about copying Ferrari? DDdiffuser (Brawn and others), blown diffuser (RB), high rake/flex wing (RB), Fduct (Mclaren)…

      2. K says:

        Wasn’t that long ago actually, if you look at Toro Rosso at the beginning of the season, they took a leaf out of a twin floor Ferrari.

        The side mirrors were started off by Ferrari before almost the whole grid followed suit (although later on banned by FIA).

        Wheel caps were another example.

  19. gonzeche says:

    ‘Massa made life easier for Webber with a spin and by being slow generally…Massa has been lucky that the gap between the Ferrari and the Mercedes is as big as it is because it means that despite being six tenths of a second slower than Alonso he still finishes in fifth or sixth place.’
    This is an excerpt from James’ race strategy analysis – actually on Webber’s strategy – on Abu Dhabi less than two weeks ago. Hasn’t it been like this for some long time now?! For nearly two full seasons now Massa is only noticeable and/or becomes relevant (let’s keep Hamilton out of this:-)) when getting into the way of his team mate i.e. hindering his own teams’ chances to achieve its goals.
    I find it hard to go around this… fact!

  20. Falcor says:

    The only reason Massa has a 2012 drive is because Ferrari are waiting for Kubica to get back. Ferrari don’t want to hire anyone new because Kubica is around the corner and so hence they are stuck with Massa for another year, or less, probably less I’d hazard to guess.

  21. Nilesh says:

    While a world champion was pushed aside after not being competitive over a season and a half, the bridesmaid has stayed on for a longer time of under-performance. Though Kimi was extremely expensive to have on board and not performing.

    Anyone else tired of Luca’s constant whining over the rules? Champions fight and win no matter the circumstances rather than blaming the rules and finding excuses. Being a Ferrari fan for fifteen years, the direction the team has taken in recent years is disappointing.

    1. Luis says:

      One thing is to push aside a low performing Kimi to bring Alonso to the team. Once you have Fernando driving really well, 110% of the car’s performance – and long term tied to the team – you shouldn’t be in that hurry to have a 2nd driver.

      Besides, it is important to mention an off-track fact: Felipe has a strong relationship with Fiat in Brazil – organizing Formula Futuro and F-Linea in partnership with Fiat. Brazil market is quite important to them, still expanding with Chrysler models.

      http://www.boston.com/cars/news/articles/2011/10/19/fiat_focuses_on_us_brazil_amid_european_woes/

  22. Alexx says:

    Maybe Kubica will make a suitable replacement?

  23. Jose Arellano says:

    I still think if massa crash didnt happen he is the one they would drop instead of raikkonen…

    he crashed and it would be to harsh to drop him without and oportunity to come back…

    Alonso and Raikkonen would be the best driver lineup

    1. Spinodontosaurus says:

      Completely different driving styles. 2007-2009 showed how good Ferrari are at making a car for both drivers – not very.

  24. ronmon says:

    I would very much like to see less dependence on aerodynamics, such as single-element front and rear wings, and more emphasis on mechanical grip. Maybe even limiting under-car stuff, though I really don’t understand that part so well. I believe this would address the relevance to road cars. Some limited testing during the season seems to be called for also.

    Massa is a nice guy, but based on his performance the last two years nobody can blame Ferrari for putting him on notice. F1 is not a popularity contest.

  25. JimmiC says:

    How is Massa’s reputation within the Italian media and the hardcore tifosi been so far this year?

  26. Eamonn says:

    Unrelated but what happened to Toyota’s front wing changer. They could change it in 8/10 sec. Faster than the normal. Why didn’t the other teams not take it up? Sorry guys, I just always wondered about.

  27. Alex_D says:

    I think that Massa is not the biggest problem in Ferrari.
    If Ferrari is going to have a winning car, than they have the best driver in F1 today to win them the championship. Massa will be confident with the car too and will be bringing good points. They will likely win the WCC too.

    Now that Ferrari doesn’t have the winning car, they try to pick on other…smaller problems. If Massa is going to be replaced by someone else – it will not solve the car problem.

    SOLVE THE CAR! Massa will deliver to help Alonso and the team winning the WDC and WCC, I am sure.

    1. garoidb says:

      I don’t think Massa would help Alonso willingly.

  28. Heinz says:

    I think if I was Sr Montezemolo I would view Paul di Resta as a good long term proposition. I believe within 2 years Paul could be among the top 6 drivers no matter who is still there and who has come back to f1 and who has left to spend more time with Mum and Dad and Rob Smedley……….

    1. KRB says:

      Has the right last name for the red cars … might be hard for them to understand him tho!

  29. Eduan Els says:

    I think Massa really has the speed but lacks confidence it is time that he gets pressure from the top so that he can perform! Since that crash in 2009 he has lost some of that desire and aggression in his driving. In Germany 2010 like most of you mentioned we saw that old Massa and then the team orders saga happened. I personally think that Massa needs to go at Ferrari but needs to leave Ferrari at the end of 2012 with a very competitive assault on the drivers championship to at least remain in the hunt for a top F1 seat. Otherwise we might see him in a midfield car or none at all.

    I would like to see Massa on top of his game again and really give Alonso a hard time on the track like he did when Raikkonen was his team mate.

  30. Andrew says:

    No real shock here from Montezemolo and I recall him saying something similar last year about Massa. While people bring up the Germany result I likewise find it disgusting but I guess Ferrari would point to Alonso’s run of results after that race to show that it was justified. While he went on to battle to win races Massa fell away from the front. This year he has been even further off the pace and if you take away his spat with Hamilton I don’t think anyone would even remember him racing this year! Being Mr Invisible in the sport never helped anyone just as Nick Heidfeld (nice guy, fast but it was his teammates who grabbed the headlines). I expect Ferrari to bin Massa at the end of next season.

  31. Richard D says:

    Sorry to say it, but it does appear that Massa is not the driver he used to be. It would seem right that if he cannot find better form next year, it is time to move on.

  32. JohnO says:

    Massa I think has had his chance and failed, ferrari are showing a lot of faith and patience in him. If they want Alonso to win the WC they need a driver who can support him and take points off close rivals in the championship, for me Massi is not the guy to do this. People who mention Kubica are living in their own world, don’t see this happening simple because Kubica will not be the same driver after that awful accident. Crazy as it might sound but Kovalainen for me would be a good 2nd driver for ferrari, he has driven the wheels off the Lotus this year and in some ways reminds me of how Alonso has driven this year…although his spell at McLaren was not great his time spent at Lotus has made him a better driver.

  33. Darren says:

    Sounds a little motivational talk for next year but I’m sure in reality it’s already decided that Massa is leaving and they’re just mulling over the best option to replace him.

  34. Rudy says:

    Montezemolo says: “What opportunities can we give young drivers to break into the sport and how can they gain experience?”. Ok Mr. M if so, give a youngster the opportunity from 2012 and get rid of the Brazilian bloke who obviously is past his prime. Also, and the most important, Domenicalli isn’t up to the task. Last year was a loss and they barely recovered for the second half. This year again the started with the left foot. A bad call of strategy in Abu in 2010 put Alonso behind Petrov for the entire GP. This year again, a bad call to pit just behind Ricciardo and a lenghty stop and that was it. Obviously Maranello needs a non-Italian in the “gestione sportiva” if it is to work. Williams, Force India, Sauber, Mclaren all reshuffled personnel. Why in the sake of God Ferrari doesn’t reshuffle the headmasters?

  35. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    Ferrari have under performed due to misjudging the Pirelli wear rate. Had the tyres not lasted as long, they would have been a lot more competitive.

    As for drivers, I think James should speak to Rubens and ask him who would fill his old locker best

  36. theRoswellite says:

    What does L. di Montezemolo hope to accomplish with such ill considered remarks? Motivation? Does he seriously think Massa isn’t well aware of the tenuous nature of his position.

    Ferrari is under performing, and everyone, especially in Italy, knows it. Trying to shine the critical spotlight of public attention on Massa helps to keep it away from…the man responsible for everything Ferrari.

  37. andrew says:

    Ferrari needs someone who is dispensible to blame. Massa is the most dispensible public figure. It’s that simple in my opinion.

  38. quest says:

    So according to Montezemolo, almost winning the title 3 years back is better than actually winning the title 2 years back.

  39. Jonno says:

    Ferrari wanted a No 2 driver and they have him. He’d be expected to race against the other major teams second drivers, but McLaren don’t have one and the Red Bull is a far superior car to the Ferrari. Massa is beating the other teams and keeping Ferrari in 3rd place.

    The accident prone, Kubica is a red herring. He’s never been a better driver than Massa. Two years out of F1 with such major injuries will put him well behind young drivers like Perez, who can only get better.

    1. Eamonn says:

      Kubica is one of, if not the quickest. How wrong are you? Ask James to comment on how quick he is.

      1. Eamonn says:

        PS if Massa was quicker Alonsa would have won the championship last year. Taking points away.

  40. mo kahn says:

    Yes, its fair on the part of Luca. F1 is a result driven sport and Massa hasn’t been delivering the same, the lack of his adaptability to Pirellis should not be an excuse. F1 rules are simple… Perform or be replaced.

    He has always been frighteningly quick in Brazil and I hope he does find a clear head to rebound to top.

    He is wonderful to watch in circuits like Turkey, Germany and Brazil and I hope he alienates himself from Alonso influence on the team and concentrate on his performance which I’m sure he will find and if he finds it en’ I’m sure he’ll often be told “Fernando is faster than you” :)

  41. Vik says:

    Why don’t we assume, for the sake of argument, and on the basis of his own assessment of himself that Felipe Massa is competent and fit. Let’s also agree that Ferrari has the third fastest car on the grid. Why is one car consistently on the podium and the other shrouded in missed opportunities, bad luck, and anonymity? What – or who – is the differentiator? Perhaps its only Alonso – happy and at the peak of his powers – that has lifted the car to double figure podiums this year, and its Felipe Massa who provides a more representative indication of the performance potential of the car. So, the question for Ferrari is, who can offer guaranteed better performance than Massa when pitted against Alonso – and are they available? Webber has signed for 2012 and its debateable whether he’d make the move to Ferrari in 2013, Button and Rosberg have just signed multi-year contracts, Vettel is long-term Red Bull, Kubica is missing and currently out of contention. Intriguingly, only Lewis Hamilton has yet to renew his contract with McLaren. Perhaps Alonso’s recent charm offensives have an alterior motive? With Ron Dennis out of the equation, who’s to say Hamilton and Alonso couldn’t function as team-mates? That’s crazy notion, isn’t it? Yep, totally bonkers.

    1. herowassenna says:

      1) When we question Alonso vs Massa, I think back to Renault in 2005 and 06. Fisichella who was a very respected driver had no answer to Alonso. In fact, it was very similar to Massa these last 2 years.
      2) We don’t know all the facts about Mclaren 2007, but we know enough to say that Ron Dennis favoured Lewis generally that year, to the point where Alonso felt alienated. I believe Alonso would relish going up against him in a different team, to lay to bed once and for all that Lewis competed equally.
      Button has proved capable of beating Lewis, and I’d imagine Alonso feels it would be a great fight.

    2. Roni Gabrelle says:

      I think that we will see Perez in a Ferrari. His testing performance was impressive and he’s acquitted himself well in his rookie year.

      1. Vik says:

        I dunno, it just feels like the master/apprentice model of driver partnerships is not the done thing among top teams anymore. The Button/Hamilton, Webber/Vettel pairings put race winners and championship contenders together. It guarantees a consistent haul of constructor points. Perez/Alonso would not be able to compete, unless the car enjoyed a significant performance advantage and that also looks very unlikely. To succeed, the top teams need two potential champions in their cars. I don’t see championship potential in Perez yet. And I don’t see him doing any better than Massa against Alonso. Do you?

      2. Roni Gabrelle says:

        I can’t fault anything you say Vik, you make some valid points, but I have to say that I do think Massa is past it and young blood might be just what’s needed to keep Ferdie on his toes. Whether or not that’s a requirement is another discussion ;))

  42. Tanqueplease says:

    I don’t think Massa is wholly to blame for his poor results this season, many times the team has made stupid errors and he has been unfortunate with the “comings together” with Ham. He has proved in the past how good he can be, but, like Ham is having a bad year. He will come back. This is his 100th race for Ferrari that in itself is a feat, how many other drivers have done that with the Scuderia.

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