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Ferrari drivers visit Maranello for talks
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Posted By: James Allen  |  28 Mar 2012   |  5:31 am GMT  |  259 comments

Both the Ferrari drivers went back to Maranello from Kuala Lumpur for meetings and discussions about the first two races and the way forward. Interestingly Malaysian GP winner Fernando Alonso had two meetings with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, a long one on Monday and another yesterday.

Alonso participated in the ceremony whereby a flag is raised at the factory gate after a race victory, but while the Spanish driver’s stock is as high as it has even been within the team after winning a Grand Prix in arguably F1′s fifth or sixth fastest car, it has served only to emphasise Felipe Massa’s problems. The little Brazilian has not stood on an F1 podium since 2010 and the sight of his race engineer Rob Smedley shaking his head on the pit wall on Sunday was as seminal a moment as the immortal “Fernando is faster than you” line on the radio.

Interestingly, team principal Stefano Domenicali said that Massa had changed his plans in order to attend meetings at the factory to try to resolve his problems,

“Instead of heading home to see his family in Brazil, he will be in Maranello to work alongside the engineers to calmly analyse everything that happened in these past two races, trying to identify why he was not able to deliver what he is capable of,” said Domenicali.

“That’s the right spirit and we are here, ready to help him.”

Ferrari has been very patient and loyal with Massa, giving him a new chassis for Malaysia and he was on average around 4/10ths off Alonso prior to the race. This is closer than he was in Australia, but still far from what is expected. Tellingly, it’s also the amount that the other teams’ strategists factor in as the difference between the two Ferrari drivers when planning race strategies.

At the meetings in Maranello he is likely to have been told that their patience is not endless.

The Massa situation is not Ferrari’s primary concern at the moment. Sorting out the problems with the F2012 is top of the list. Engineers from rival teams say that it will be hard to get the car to the same level as the pace setting McLaren as the decision to go with pullrod front suspension has been shown not to be effective and the team are committed to it now. Time will tell.

But the performance on Sunday of Sergio Perez, the man most likely to replace Massa at some point, has further added to the glare of doubt about the Brazilian, who is driving at the moment like a man with little or no confidence.

Many outsiders are calling for Perez to be brought in for the next race in China, including, mischievously, the McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh. It is very tempting for onlookers to see this as the logical move. But this is unlikely to happen. The earliest Ferrari might consider giving Perez a run would be the Mugello test on May 1st, after Bahrain.

But even then the situation is fraught with problems. Putting Perez in the car mid season could actually prove counter-effective, for the team and for Perez’ career, as the F2012 is a difficult car to drive and how would it look if he under-performed in it? It would leave the team with nowhere to go next and could wreck his confidence.

“We know we have an unstable car,” said Domenicali, “One that in certain moments gives us a lot and at other times, a lot less.” Technical director Pat Fry agreed, “The F2012 seems to behave in very different ways depending on the conditions,” he said. “In this race there were moments when it was competitive, others where it struggled. Now we need to find the missing tenths.”

This is not a car a young driver, whose stock is high after a good result, should want to step into hastily.

Moving teams mid-season with little or no testing time is always very high risk, especially for a driver with only one season of F1 experience. Add to that the performance of Alonso in the other car and the entry level would be very high indeed for Perez.

Better to wait until the end of the season and then start afresh with a new car and plenty of testing. One of the likely outcomes of the new Concorde Agreement, called for by Montezemolo, is the return of a bit more testing in 2013.

Of course if Massa’s decline continues the team may be forced to act and in that scenario it will be fascinating to see what they decide to do.

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259 Comments
  1. Nadeem says:

    Perez for 2013 any earlier and I feel it would be a Fisichella episode again. Plus would love to see what Perez can do now with last weeks result for the rest of the year. there will be downs but mostly ups.

    1. DMyers says:

      Ironically, it might make more sense for Fisichella to replace Massa from the Mugello test onwards. Especially since he usually performs manfully in dreadful cars.

      1. Paul says:

        Just like he did at Monza when he replaced Massa last time? He was worse than Massa then and is most certainly now.

    2. Sebee says:

      Nadeem, I’ll one up you and say that Perez should not go for that second Ferrari seat playing second to Alonso for next 4 years. And let’s be perfectly clear – he will be the #2 car, #2 driver with #2 treatment and strategy.

      That second seat is a carrier killer. If Parez wants to be #1 than he’ll have to go for another team. Unless the Slim money will be so big that Ferrari will give Perez the support and hardware it’s a pointless move.

      Also, let’s not catch a case of Parez mania and Linsanity. It was one wet race. I think it’s an attention grabber. Fisi won a crazy wet race too in Brazil ’03 – and then what happened at Ferrari? Death by #2 Ferrari.

      1. Daniel Hoyes says:

        No, but he showed so much skill in this wet race, I would actually compare it to Vettel in the Torro Rosso at Monza in 2008 – that victory really got people talking and has led to where he is today.

        I do agree that Perez should look carefully at his options though, and not just go for the default decision everyone feels he will make. Then again – it’s quite hard to turn down a drive for Ferrari, even if a Red Bull or Mercedes seat was offered…

      2. lecho says:

        He showed skills, yes, but he still failed to win a race in a far superior car having all cards in his hands. He surely is a very hot prospect for the future, but let’s not put too much expectations on him now – not everyone can do a Vettel.

      3. Nadeem says:

        Sebee Interesting, but would a seat at another team come up as good as Ferrari? McLaren maybe if Lewis leaves.

        I really thought with so much Telmex money that we would see more branding on the Sauber. Can anyone shed light here?

      4. Ash says:

        Telmex, Telcel and Claro are all Slim brands, and I believe the NEC sponsorship has a Slim connexion as well.

    3. ben bailey says:

      A very fast chap by the name of Adrian Sutil is waiting in the wings, as is Buemi and Jamie… All with nothing to loose by stepping into the car but something to prove and no one could do worse than massa at the moment surely!
      Ferrari also have nothing to loose by trying out Adrian in particular as they may find hes actually as good as he has been rated.

      1. Will N says:

        Look-how-bad-you-are (Luca baduer)

  2. Josh says:

    James, do you think Massa is past the point of no return? Will he be able to salvage himself?

    1. Wayne says:

      Thing is, everyone is talking about the pressure of Massa, but is the pressure really so severe? I would suggest that Ferrari really do not expect or even want Massa to actually win races, rather they would ideally like Massa to fall in a place or two behind Alonso in every race bringing hom solid points. They want ‘average’ performances from Massa not brilliant wins! When all that is expected of you is to do an ‘average’ job, I’m not sure that it can really be said that you are under pressure.

      The last positive thing that everyone harps on about when it comes to Massa was how gracious he was in defeat to Lewis during his ‘nearly’ year. However, it cost him nothing to say the right thing at the right time and he has spent plenty of time since then blaming everyone around him for his misfortune.

      As for ‘Alonso is faster than you’ – Ferrari broke the rules of the sport in issuingn that team order and that is a fact. However, Massa should not have put himself in the position where he was trailing his team mate by so much so early in the season.

      1. Daniel MA says:

        The thing is, he’s not even doing an ‘average’ job at least he should be getting a couple of points each race but if he continues like this I’m afraid Ferrari can forget the constructors championship this year.

      2. lecho says:

        Actually having such problems with the car at this point of the season I would fancy their chances for a WCC even if they had two Alonsos.

      3. Milton says:

        Not under pressure? How about the Tifosi that want to see Ferrari 1-2 every single race, regardless of who comes first? How about the Brazilian fans that expect him to be on the same level as Fittipaldi, Piquet and Senna?
        That’s way more pressure than a common man could handle.

      4. Wayne says:

        Yes but he does not have a normal job so he cannot be compared to a ‘normal man’. He has been trained since a child and is paid x millions per year to deal with it. Of course if you put a bus driver in that position he would not be able to cope, obviously.

      5. hero_was_senna says:

        Yes they broke a ridiculous rule that had been brought in from 2003 onwards. A rule that had been blatantly ignored by all teams as and when required.
        It was just other teams would not be so blatant.
        Except one time, Heikki in Germany 2008 (oh, the irony ) being told Lewis was faster than him.
        Yet because it wasn’t Ferrari, because it wasn’t Alonso and probably because it was Lewis, not a single bit of fuss made.

      6. Wayne says:

        But a rule none the less.

      7. Simple says:

        Oh please, when has the FIA ever missed an opportunity to penalise Lewis or McLaren? 100mil fine ring any bells? Or a spa disqualification?

      8. Doobs says:

        hah yeah, I remember “save fuel, Jensen”…

    2. Kevin Green says:

      Passed that point the moment the Brawn Spring hit him on the head really i think. Such bad luck :(

      1. Will N says:

        That’s right! He’s never been the same driver since his huge horrible accident in ’09…

    3. Stumo says:

      Point of no return suggests that even if he won every race from now on he’d be booted out, I’d find that hard to believe (on many levels).

      I have limited sympathy for Ferrari, they could’ve allowed him to drive properly rather than the “Alonso is faster than you” and created a great story, a year after the accident.

      1. Quattro_T says:

        Ferrari did not create a story, great or bad. (some) Media did it. Today it should be obvious to everyone, including those hypocritical media, that the statement “Alonso is faster than you” not only holds, but should have been “Alonso is much much faster than you – get over it and give space to your FASTER teammate!”. No offence intended to the likeable Massa.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        That’s very far from going to happen though if i was offered 2/1 on Massa not winning a race this season i would put a couple grand on it tomorrow Stumo.

      3. Wayne says:

        Ok past the point of return – barring any utterly incredible, miraculous events ocurring such as the one you suggest.

        I have to say I have limited sympathy for Massa, as it turns out that Ferrari almost won the wdc that year with Alonso. Massa should not have allowed the gap to open to his team mate to that extent. Although I do understand and appreciate what you are saying – the PR story would have been amazing.

    4. David says:

      “That’s the right spirit and we are here, ready to help him.”

      That’s a killer phrase. Imagine a politician saying it. Massa has won race to sort it out, or he’s gone. He won’t and he will be.

  3. Jonno says:

    If Perez left Sauber, where would that leave his personal sponsors who I’ve heard have put many £millions in the team? Those sponsors want to be associated with Perez, but they couldn’t move to Ferrari without causing Sauber a lot of expensive problems. Are Ferrari able to throw money at Massa and Sauber, I doubt it.
    Ferrari have made their bed and will have to lie in it. There are a very few possible replacements, but they could prove to have exactly the same problems as Massa.

    1. Dan Orsino says:

      Perez has had a couple of outstanding races with a midpack team. Give him a chance to prove how consistent he can be.

      Perez trying to chase down Alonso reminds me a lot of Fisi’s p2 at Spa 2009 chasing Kimi, except that Fisi didn’t make any errors.
      But, as someone has posted above, look what happened next to Fisi: he’s still trying to recover now from his experience as a Ferrari driver!!
      Anyone know Is he still with the Scuderia?

      1. daphne says:

        I sam him on the telly during the Australian race wearing Ferrari red’s. Dont know what his involvement is tho.

      2. Michele says:

        Fisichella is racing in WEC with Ferrari 458

    2. Baghetti says:

      I guess one of the more viable options apart from Fisichella would be Sutil (per his own comments he has been in talks with the Scuderia before) as he is without a drive for the moment and therefore shouldn’t be too expensive to hire for the remainder of the season?

    3. Chris C says:

      You have a valid & interesting point in the impact on sponsorship. Perez is being sponsored by Telmex and the richest guy on the planet. But I think it would be easily resolved by keeping the sponsorship to Sauber and giving some extra money towards Ferrari. After all, the visibility from Ferrari is worth a lot. Something similar has been done with Santander and McLaren & Ferrari if I am not mistaken.

  4. Paul Kirk says:

    We all know different drivers have different “driving styles” and we’ve seen in the past (and currantly) that car handling characteristics/tyres/ballance, etc suit some drivers but not others, so I feel it is grosely unfare for everybody to be blaming Felipe for underperforming when we all know the car is by no means a comfortable front runner to drive! Personally, I reckon Ferrari should concentrate on making their car a better car to drive, then see how close he is to Alonso. I wouldn’t be surprised if Felipe turned out pretty quick if he was put in a McLaren or a Sauber or a Merc or a Reno. He’s a good guy and it would be sad if his career folded without a fair chance!
    PK.

    1. Husker says:

      The problem is not just this car and this season, Paul. Massa has been consistently under performing for the past 2+years to the point where it’s just laughable and ridiculous (two quick examples out of many, many races – his performance in Abu Dhabi last season, sins and all, an the utter idiotic drive at the Indian GP where he clipped the kerb and knocked of his front tie not once, but TWICE during the weekend!!! Ferrari had every right to fire him that very Sunday night!).

      But they didn’t. Ferrari should have let Massa go at the end of 2010, end of 2011 at the latest and now both are suffering from the Scuderia’s loyalty. Massa’s reputation is all but done, as is his confidence and future in F1 to be honest. Ferrari on the other hand, have been basically running a one-car operation for the last 2 years and that will never land them the constructors championship which is all they really care about.

      So no, I do not believe anyone calling for Ferrari to sack Massa is being unfair or exaggerating matters IMO. :)

      1. Husker says:

        Not sins. lol, I meant Spins!… although some people that believe in that stuff could say the way he drives in a sin! haha

        Sorry for the typo.

      2. Quattro_T says:

        “is” ;)

    2. Jimbob says:

      I remember a few years back when Massa was at Sauber, Martin Brundle commented on a lap of Massa’s from the onboard camera. He made the observation that Massa was not driving the car very well and that he had very little subtlety with the way he used the throttle and brakes. It was either on or off, nothing in between.

      MBs conclusion was pretty scathing.

      Making assumptions based on this it seems Massa may have been flattered by a very good car (and a disinterested Räikkönen) in ’08.

      The rest of the time he has only beaten his team mate once. (An aging Villeneuve in ’05).

      So a fair conclusion could be that Massa hasn’t “lost it”, but actually was just not a very good driver in the first place.

      And this season his on/off driving style is being shown up even more by a Ferrari that isn’t balanced and therefore doesn’t respond well to his heavy handed inputs.

      1. Stephen Hughes says:

        I suspect this is probably closest to the truth. Give him a car (and tyres) that suit his style and he is as fast as the next man, probably faster.

        However, what makes a great driver is the ability to adapt to the car you have and still drag the results out of it.

        Much as I like Massa it is becoming more and more obvious he doesn’t have that skill. Ferrari really have the choice between trying to make their car suit his style more – and risk compromising Alonso – or taking the plunge and finding someone else.

        There are many, many good possibly even great drivers who have missed out on a career due to circumstances. He has been lucky that Ferrari have kept faith in him, the reasons behind underperformance rarely count for much in this game…

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        I don’t think Massa was ever that good in the first place.
        He raced a Schumacher that was well past his peak in 2006
        The 2nd half of 2007, Kimi was the lead driver, yet 2008 and 2009, Massa was generally ahead.
        This is the main reason why I have a problem with Kimi, not because he’s not fast, but because he made Massa look good because of how dis-interested he’d become.
        Alonso was always going to destroy him.
        You are talking about one of the Top 5 in history.

        The other thing people forget, F1 was running traction control from mid 2001 onwards, till 2009 I believe, when the standard black box, developed by Mclaren was introduced across the grid to remove traction control.

        I don’t know what contract the Todts got Massa to sign with Ferrari, but it seems to have forced them to keep him on.

      3. Ambient Sheep says:

        Nice try, and I nearly bought it myself, as it seemed such a nice theory: what Martin Brundle said about Massa’s on/off throttle usage, and then the removal of traction control in 2009 exposing his limitations… but sadly it doesn’t hold up.

        The first year with the non-traction-control McLaren standard ECU was 2008, the year he nearly won the championship. So it can’t be that.

      4. Oly says:

        Interesting point of view. Maybe you could be right.

  5. Louise Austin says:

    I think Ferrari broke Felipe mentally when they made him move over for Alonso & Alonso’s dominance has worn him down further. Massa has always been a driver who needs his confidence to be built. I think if he had left Ferrari when that happened we would be seeing a different Massa driving now.

    1. Husker says:

      Alonso destroyed Massa himself when he passed on the pit entry in China 2009.

      The team order in Hockenheim later that year made complete sense since the only Ferrari driver able to fight for the championship was Alonso.
      ————

      Ferrari need to put Massa out of his misery. I agree that the best situation would be for Perez to join at the end of this championship with proper testing etc. for 2013.

      And perhaps, James, the Mugello test could indeed showcase a new replacement driver for the remaining of the season, someone without a drive and nothing to lose… I don’t know where Sutil may be, but how about your new team mate over at Radio5? ;)

      1. kenny5 says:

        – that pit lane pass was illeagal as alonso had all 4 wheels off the track at that moment…

        As usual no punishement for alonso

      2. Puffing says:

        As usual? This is too much to say.

      3. Michele says:

        “Alonso destroyed Massa himself when he passed on the pit entry in China 2009.”

        +1

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        I don’t know if you remember, before China that year, they started the season at Bahrain.
        Massa actually started ahead.

        2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:54.242
        3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:54.608

        At the first corner, Alonso muscled past and won when Vettel retired.

        In Australia, Alonso found himself running behind Massa, and Massa defended so much against Alonso, that Webber and Hamilton got through. I remember Alonso’s radio message to the team saying “this is ridiculous” and he also asked to be let through as he could win.
        Yet, because it was the second race of the season, Ferrari didn’t get Massa out of the way.
        China, when he overtook Massa at the pit entry, I thought it was brilliant opportunism, but Alonso himself had screwed up by jump starting off the grid.

      5. Ambient Sheep says:

        Good points, well made.

    2. Ro_Jo says:

      +1

      Totally agree! Ferrari have a inbred characteristic of making one driver subservient to the other by rallying around and raising their chosen star while the other gets to bask in their shadow. They should molly coddle Felipe they way they did when they wanted Raikkonen to move on – eg. ’08 & ’09 but its too late now. Massa is a crushed spirit.

      1. Dan Orsino says:

        I agree, And it is laughable when they pick the wrong driver to favour! [2008]

        Massa lived by Rob smedley. He was also Schumacher’s legacy to the team. That is a whole topic all by itself…

      2. Quattro_T says:

        I do not agree about the “raising their chosen star” statement. I think that Alonso has very clearly showed on many occations, out on the track, that he is the “self made star”. The way he (and Massa) is driving any team have no option but to give him the best treatment.

    3. JTW says:

      Broke him mentally? What is he, 12? All of these drivers are driven (so to speak), uber competitive, individuals. When beaten, or perhaps humiliated, they should have the desire to come back harder, dig deeper (and any other cliche you want to use) and prove their detractors wrong. Massa hasn’t done that.
      As for a team having pronounced #1 and #2 drivers, wasn’t that the concern when Button went to McLaren? Yet, through his skill, and nature, Button has, perhaps in some eyes, become the #1 at McLaren.
      If Massa had fought back, he might have levelled the playing field at Ferrari … but he didn’t. Replace him, but not with Perez this year.

  6. goferet says:

    It’s fun to see what a good result can do to the determination and resolve of a team especially one like Ferrari hopefully this gives them the fire in the belly to give 100% effort in producing a beauty with their B spec car.

    And looking at the Alonso lovefest that’s going on at Maranello especially during these difficult times, it’s beginning to feel like Schumi never drove for them and am afraid for him that with time, he may just become that son the Tifosi appreciate but don’t really love.

    Now with all this talk of an eminent Perez move to the most successful team on the grid, where does this leave Kubica again? Unless Montezemolo really meant it when he said he wants 3 car teams in F1.

    As for Massa, am beginning to feel sorry for the fella, can’t be easy seeing your teammate get all the applause and worse still the Tifosi want your blood & to add more wood to the fire, when one gets fired from Ferrari that’s like getting fired from the sport = No where else to go.

    Anyway whatever happens, Massa won’t be the only person leaving the team this season seeing as it’s more than likely the team won’t win any titles again this season so at least Massa can take some comfort in that.

    P.s.

    Funny that Ferrari raise their flag after each race win, maybe they should a compose an anthem too.

    1. Husker says:

      As much as I’d like to see Robert back in F1, I think pretty much everyone involved in Formula 1 have moved on from RK.

      Really sad, but he’s not coming back.

    2. peter says:

      The red flag is a bit like maclaren putting on their little red t-shirts after a win

    3. Dan Orsino says:

      Schumacher and Raikkonen got fired from Ferrari.

      Not the end for them just yet…..

      1. Phillip H says:

        Sorry, I seem to have missed the memo where Schumacher got sacked??

        I seem to recall that he retired, which is a different kettle of fish.

      2. Paul says:

        Do you honestly believe Schumi was fired at the end of 2006?

      3. Martin says:

        But both of them had to pass several championships before coming back and both were WC, the fact that made comeback just a little bit easier. Never will happen to Massa.

      4. hero_was_senna says:

        Schumacher was given the opportunity to continue into 2007 with Kimi as his team-mate.
        LDM is no fool, he knew that all through his career, Schumacher decided what team-mate to have and even though Marlboro was willing to pay $60,000,000 odd for the superteam, Schumacher would choose to “retire” with some stupid comment about worrying about Felipes future!!!

      5. Kevin Green says:

        Worried about his own level raw talent being transparent up against Kimi more like, as i have said before excellent development tool along side other types of tool!

        As for out and out racing driver im sure there’s been a fair few better ones at the same time as Schumacher just not in a better car or in the same team at the same time at the right time. Still hats off to Ferrari Brawn Byrne and co of that Era to pull it off and as we see the Mercedes drastically improving too.

        It would be interesting to see Schumacher dumped into the drivers seat at Redbull Mclaren and even Ferrari right now to see where he would be exactly as it would certainly give as clear a picture as anything as to where Schumacher is driver wise.

    4. hero_was_senna says:

      goferet, Schumacher is the “son” that we, the Tifosi, respected but never really loved.

      One thing about Alonso, or Hamilton, or a Senna or Mansell or Alesi or just about any true racer, the fans love them because it’s theatre, personality and breathless at times.
      Whilst a Prost, Button or Vettel are a form of artistry to watch, they don’t inspire red blooded fans.

      So whilst, I’m over joyed that MS won 5 titles for Ferrari and countless wins, there was something metronomic about him and the team.
      His lack of true sportsmanship and unwillingness to fight a team-mate made him unlovable.

      If Alonso wins the WDC or a few, it doesn’t matter, numbers are mere statistics, its the warrior we worship.
      The suspended belief, that our hero can make a difference

      1. anonymous says:

        You must be kidding! Alonso is the first one to complain on the radio when he thinks his team mate should be told to go out of the way. Sure he can wrestle an underperforming car, but so could Schumacher – and he had some inspiring flamboyant drives back in his Ferrari days. You can’t blame Schumacher for being a emotionless robot either, just remember him and Coulthard in Spa, the day when he equalled Sennas record, the 4-stop high-risk strategy in Magny Cours and several other occasions. And yes: A good driver has to be somewhat metronomic too, when the situation affords it. Just have a look at Alesi and how many wins he has thrown away.

  7. EM says:

    The Massa dilemma is interesting. For a team that wears its heart on its sleeve sticking by a driver who has had a terrible experience in one of their cars must seem like the natural Ferrari thing to do.

    But it was clear to me last season he is not cutting it, I’m not a mind reader so I won’t guess at the reasons but he clearly is under performing.

    He doesn’t seem to make any progress in his tyre issues, some drivers style will suit them better than others I know but he just can’t get on top of it even though Ferrari have all Alonso’s data and he’s making a better job of it.

    He’s also desperate not to be overtaken. So desperate he’s getting involved in a lot of scrapes which set him back further. Again not all his doing but when Button came up against him on Sunday you could see Massa throwing the car around, holding on to keep position against the much faster car. Again Alonso doesn’t get in those positions and we’ve seen many a canny driver not fight too hard when they know they’re beaten, better to have some points than risk a battle which is going to lose you time and places rapidly.

    I get the impression Ferrari are being so vocal about the help they are giving him so they can turn round soon and say despite our best efforts and a lot of help Fellipe isn’t working out. As always we wish him well but we’re racing with someone else.

    On the Perez thing I’m guessing Telmex have a part to play, will they be happy pumping money into Sauber if there’s no Perez?

    1. Husker says:

      Sauber is grooming another Telmex-backed young Mexican, their reserve driver (GP2 Lotus’ Esteban Gutierrez) so I think even if Sergio goes to Ferrari next year and all the pieces fall into place for Sauber to graduate Gutierrez into F1 in Sergio’s place they’ll continue to get the sponsorship money.

      Hopefully all this happening after 2012 is done, because both Perez and Gutierrez need this year to be more experienced and ready to jump up in 2013.

    2. PMain says:

      I disagree. Ferrari are being vocal about their support for Massa because they actually support him and want to quash any rumours.

      Imagine being Massa right now – millions of people (tifosi, every other F1 fam, the media, and even other team bosses) calling for your blood….poor bloke :(

      1. Brad says:

        “Imagine being Massa right now – millions of people (tifosi, every other F1 fam, the media, and even other team bosses) calling for your blood….poor bloke :(”
        Who would imagine this after the support the team gave him and left Kimi to his own devices. What a disaster it turns out to support the wrong guy…

        Hindsight is always a wonderful thing….

  8. Eduan says:

    Sad to see Felipe in this situation. James who do you think will take Massa after his performances at Ferrari? Maybe a swop with Sauber?

    I think the environment is not impossible for Massa to come out of. he was teamates with other world champions and why suddenly all the struggles? I think Germany 2010 cracked his confidence.

    1. Mingojo says:

      Actually Massa was much faster in the second half of the season’10 than the first half

    2. Johnny English says:

      Completely agree with you – before Germany 2010 Massa has been delivering increadably good performance (win after win) – that race has really cracked him.

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        2 wins in 2006
        3 wins in 2007
        6 wins in 2008.
        2009, 2010, 2011… what 50 odd races, yeahgreat performances

  9. Ade says:

    If Massa cannot get his act together soon (next two races maybe) it looks to me like a stop-gap job for Trulli till the end of ’12 would be the next logical step for Ferrari. Jarno would snap their hands off and it would keep the Italian fans happy to see one their own in the red car for a while.

    1. jay jacob says:

      Jarno? hmmmm… gotta think about it a bit more… seems like he is well past his ‘use by’ date.

    2. olivier says:

      +1

      He is ticking all the boxes, isn’t he?

      1. Experienced.
      2. End of career.
      3. Last but not least. Italian!

    3. Kay says:

      Even Narain would do better than Trulli.

    4. darth_patate says:

      I really don’t see the tifosi really wanting an italian driver. They want anybody who is able to make ferrari win championships. If he’s italian it’s a bonus but they will love a german or spanish or brazilian driver able to take wins (or be a consistent number 2). i am pretty sure Rubens was popular when he was helping Schu and shutting up …any historian here to back this ?

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        No, Rubens wasn’t really. He was seen as a patsy by alot of fans.
        I think it depends on when you fell in love with Ferrari. If it’s post Schumacher, then you’ll love whoever drives in red.
        But I have been following Ferrari since the mid 70′s and remember the Old Man loving competition between his drivers.

        Senna would have been worshipped by the Tifosi, just as Alonso is experiencing, because he was a warrior.
        Prost in 1990 was respected, but Mansell was loved.
        Schumacher was respected because at the time, he was the best in the field, and he was working for Ferrari, but he was never loved.
        Irvine, Barrichello and Massa have always been identified by true Tifosi, as number 2′s, which isn’t what Ferrari were ever about.

        Look, put Button, Hamilton or Vettel in beside Alonso and they will beat him on occasion, but over the course of a season, he will finish ahead. As a racer he has no equal.
        All we want is an able driver to pick up if Alonso hits problems.

      2. darth_patate says:

        Thanks for your insight, I was not really following Ferrari before the SCH years. I was aware that he was not overly loved after he started to complain about “equal treatment” though

        and for starter i would first want the car to get better and when it does then ok go for a 2nd driver to “pick up” in case ALO declines/retire/…

        At this rate he will not win another WDC whereas i feel he is at his personnal best since 2011 (2010had some bad moments, each of them costing the WDC in the end …DNF at SPA, bad calls overtaking lapped cars in canada, sevral bad starts..)

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        Fair points darth.
        From my point of view, i would agree that in 2010, there were a few races which cost Alonso dearly, but I would also add, that he was driving probably the 3rd best car that season, behind Red Bull and Mclaren.

        Any driver who drives to the absolute limit is most likely to have incidents which cause retirement. Schumacher also suffered this in the late 90′s at Ferrari.

        Alonso in 2005 and 2006 hardly ever put a foot wrong, not because he was better then, but because his car was on a level with the best.

        To judge a driver, you need to see him in a poor car and how he responds. Alonso, Schumacher and Hamilton are the only drivers that have proven the ability to win races when not in the best machinery.

        I’m interested to see if Vettel will join that elite group. Or is he like Hakkinen, that he needs a car advantage to be able to win?

    5. Chris C says:

      I have to disagree. Although I do understadn your reasoning what would be the point to change one underperforming driver with another underperforming who on top has no clue about the team and has not driven for some months. Between Trulli and Massa, Massa is still the better option even in his sorry state.

    6. Simmo says:

      Jarno. Really? No – I think they should call for Barrichello back in F1, although he would be likely to say no based on his history with the team.

      None the less, Barrichello is experienced, and might well be able to give Ferrari a few 3rd or 4th places.

  10. Timwahoo says:

    What do they need more testing for? F1 is miles better for no testing

  11. alexyoong says:

    Ferrari should stick with Massa until the end of the year for two reasons:

    -a) Massa, prior to Hungary 2009, drove way above expectation, as good as winning the ’08 championship. Respect for that, and recognition of the difficult time he has had as a result of the Hungary accident, should be marked by loyalty; and
    -b) Nothing will be gained for Ferrari or Perez in putting a young driver in a difficult car mid-season. Remember Badoer and Fisichella in 2009. The latter was driving superbly before the move, even taking pole at Spa in a Force India. He then went to Ferrari and got whitewashed, scoring no points, ruining his reputation, and ending hush career (slightly prematurely).

    1. jay jacob says:

      Good points!

      I think they will stick with Massa till year end coz it’s their best bet and they won’t easily forget Massa’s contributions in ’08.

  12. Prateek Gupta says:

    First of all, congratulations to Ferrari F1 team and Fernando for putting a great show at Sepang. But, as Alonso also mentioned in his post race conference, I also believe that this result does not change anything about car performance.
    I believe, F2012 has got three serious issues that have to be of utmost priority, namely:
    (1) Lack of downforce
    (2) lack of pace on straights
    (3) tyre management on warm dry conditions

    We know Mercedes have got good qualifying pace, but they have encountered big problems on race days. Red bulls are also on the back-foot this season as their performance was totally relied on blown exhaust diffusers, which are no more in the picture now. So, if we are able to capitalize on their disadvantage, we will surely have the Drivers championship, if not constructors, considering the current form of our number 2 driver.
    We have to give Fernando a competitive car, or else we will be wasting him, and this time will never come again.
    I know Ferrari have always bounced back, and they have got all the resources to do so this time as well. So, lets hope that our drivers get improved version of F2012 very soon, and the “horse prances again” in formula 1 world.

    Thanks

    1. Kay says:

      “I believe, F2012 has got three serious issues that have to be of utmost priority, namely:
      (1) Lack of downforce
      (2) lack of pace on straights
      (3) tyre management on warm dry conditions”

      Basically you just listed anything that’s common on an F1 car.

      If you actually watched the race in Malaysia, the F2012 was actually pretty quick down the straights, comparable to the Sauber. It’s the corners where it don’t handle so well.

      1. Martin says:

        To be fair to Prateek, based on the speed trap results on Formula1.com from P1 to Q3, the Ferraris were never above 16th.

        I suspect that poor performance of the floor requries a larger rear wing. The tyre wear comes down to understanding the suspension geometry they have changed to this year.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari bring a new floor to China, even if the exhaust blowing bit doesn’t change much.

        Cheers,

        Martin

      2. devon says:

        hmmmm…

        not sure about that. ferrari slowest through speed trap, while sauber one of the quickest.

    2. PMain says:

      You forgot

      4) Balance: It is so strange that the F2012 can match the front runners at the beginning of the race when it is heavy, but nearing the end of the race, when it is light on fuel it just can’t keep traction and is off pace. This is shown in qualifying where on quali spec they are way down, but on race day, the car has good pace, except when it is low on fuel.

      In both Malaysia and Aus, the Alonso was able to have good race pace in the beginning to mid of the race, but was absolutely hounded right at the end…..

      As if the heavy tank is pushing down on the rears giving the car grip, but when the weight is gone, so is the grip….strange….

    3. **Paul** says:

      Hmm I think Ferrari have a lack of front end grip, which is partially due to a lack of downforce. This causes them (in my opinion) to run a softer from end to try and work the tyres and get them to operate. This theory would be backed up by Alonso doing well in the wet, as a softer suspension setup is better in wet conditions.

      IMO of course…

      There is certainly nothing too wrong with the straight line performance of the red cars, as I’m sure we’ll see down the back straight in China – keep an eye on that speed trap!

    4. gondokmg says:

      A car that lacks downforce and is slower on the straights. Not sure that’s true of the F2012 but if it is then Ferrari won’t be fighting for the champioship this year.

      They would need more downforce without adding drag and without changing the chasis. Not easy I am sure!

  13. AlexK says:

    Totally agree concerning the Perez situation. I think Perez himself will be mindful of other examples where drivers have stepped into different cars mid-season snd struglled. Fisi in the Ferrari and Grojean in the Renault spring to mind.
    To my mind Ferrari would need an experienced driver and that may leave one real option: Sutil. Any talk of this James?

      1. Martin says:

        Just a thought on that, given that Alonso and Massa are by Australian standards tiny, would that greatly disadvantage Sutil on the grounds that he would struggle to be comfortable in the car? Webber mentioned that it took until the RB7 for there to be enough space in the car for him, and that is after Coulthard and he had been at the team for six prior seasons. So are Ferrari looking for someone short?

      2. Alex says:

        Not Sutil you say? So is there credible chatter about a Massa replacement?

    1. Kay says:

      Don’t think it’d take a James to tell you Sutil won’t be in F1 anymore.

      1. tom in adelaide says:

        Hmmmm not this year, but people do tend to forget quickly. I could see him back in 2013. He’s still a good driver with cash.

  14. SK Anand says:

    Well for all their well publicised woes, the team appears to be together and willing to sort out these issues. I am just wondering if the mood in the mercedes is as sombre and will the next season see any change in the performance

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Change in driver(s) i certainly think.

  15. DanWilliams says:

    If Massa doesn’t up his game soon his performances levels will be nearing ‘Look-how-bad-you-are’s (Luca Badoer)’ in 2009… Alternatively, what about Ferrari’s reserve driver? Is it still Fisicella? Fisi might do a better job in the interim if Ferrari want to see the year out before considering Perez (or any other driver) for 2013. In saying this I would much rather see Massa find his confidence again, some great performances in 2006 and 2008 and it would be a shame for him to end his career like this.

    1. Ade says:

      Fisi has a new career in sports car racing. His performances in the 458 last year were good and he looks happier in that series now. It would probably not take much to tempt him back to F1, but would not be a sensible move for him or Ferrari.

  16. TheGreatTeflonso says:

    James you are completely right about Perez not being ready, in my opinion. Its crazy as a reader of your blog, because for a long time people have been commenting about getting Kobash into the Ferrari, then one 2nd place for Perez and suddenly everyone changes their tune. Well I’ve felt Perez was better than Kobayashi, but if he were to join Ferrari mid-season, he would simply struggle with a difficult car (I feel all the recent Ferrari’s have been difficult) and he would get absolutely decimated by Alonso. Then everyone’s comments will go back to how Ferrari must favor Alonso. Its the same old sob story.

    I think if Barrichello hadn’t signed up for Indy, Ferrari should have tried to get him in the team. He has won as many grand prix as Massa, but is undoubtedly better at providing feedback and helping build the car. This is what Ferrari need this year, a guy that can drive a difficult car and provide feedback. Mclaren have a great driver pairing because Hamilton is so fast and Button is so clean in the race. Ferrari can’t get this sort of pairing because Alonso on form is both fast and clean. They can’t really find another driver to complement and counter his style. They don’t have a race winning car and won’t this year, the gap is too large.

    Felipe is a solid driver, but that is all he’s ever been to me. Think about it. He’s partnered two of the best drivers in recent history (Schumacher and Alonso) and Kimi, so he’s been able to learn from them, their setup, everything. He simply is not able to do anything with it. When a car is good, suits his style and is on form, he can drive it fast, this is why he challenged for the title one year. He’ll never be able to challenge for wins without a great car, and this is why he simply cannot be in Ferrari’s future, because Ferrari are unable to make a great car anytime soon.

    1. jay jacob says:

      Get Barrichello? Are you serious? He left Ferrari for Honda, couldn’t beat Button in ’09 and released from Williams. Ferrari would have too much pride to even consider.

    2. Andrew says:

      While I loved seeing Barrichello race Williams didn’t climb up the grid with him in the car providing feedback to the team.

    3. Kay says:

      For what Ferrari had done to Barrichello, you think he’d go back to them? LOL…. crazy thoughts.

      1. PMain says:

        Barrichello was begging for an F1 drive at the end of last year. He would have taken anything on offer (even a HRT drive) and I reckon he would give his right kidney today for a chance to drive in a Ferrari again! :)

      2. Don Farrell says:

        +1

      3. Kevin Green says:

        Given the chance? he probably would he has a very good respectable stat of his own that could do with a little more maintenance.

        So why not he clearly loves being in F1 and is always full of smiles unlike some of the spoilt brats that near try to insist on being in the best cars only. But on that cant see it happening more so from Ferrari’s point of view im affraid.

      4. zombie says:

        “For what Ferrari done to Barichello?” You mean, like giving him cars to win most of the races he won in his career ? After all the things he has said about Ferrari after leaving them, i don’t think the Scuderia would touch him with 20 ft barge pole. I would say stick with Massa till the end of the year, he’s just going through a rough patch in life where nothing seems to go right.

  17. Sean hardman says:

    Think Perez would do well to stay where he is for this season at least. Ferrari will push the development of the car but can’t see it matching the front runners apart from in exceptional races. Great start to the season.

  18. Greygamer says:

    Ferrari seem to have built a number of difficult to drive cars in recent seasons. While there is no question Alonso is out performing the car, such a philosophy will not deliver a constructors championship as well as making the driver WC very difficult.

  19. Martinus says:

    I still think there’s a chance Kubica will take over Massa’s seat. He would officially retired if there was no chance for him. Maybe we’ll see him at the Silverstone youngsters’ test (????)if he’s ready and FIA allows.

  20. Massa should stay, indeed, for the reasons you mentioned, James. He has enough years with the team in order to feel more comfortable, as soon as the car becomes predictable and less promiscuous.

    Ferrari should immediately try to resolve their correlation issues (move to Toyota facility in Cologne? Or was it owned by PURE already?), because the apparent “radicalization” of the car – the vertical placement of the radiators and the exhaust concept blowing the rear brake duct fins are apparently a no-go, however, they had worked OK in the wind tunnel and CFD equations, otherwise they won’t go for them.

    Evidently, these are not performing as expected on the track, so correlation is wrong. IMHO.

    As I already mentioned on other place, I’m rather pessimistic that Ferrari can catch up, despite the efforts – if they have the core problem of wrong data floating around, no engineering endeavors will be successful on track.

    1. Ian says:

      I believe the Toyota facilities are now being used by the Le Mans prototype team who are racing this season with a new car.

    2. Kay says:

      What is it with funny and casual viewers…..

      What makes you think the Toyota facility is better than what Ferrari has got?

      It’s like saying you aren’t doing your homework well at home, then your family decides it’s better for you to do it at Pete’s place who’s your neighbour.

      There is absolutely no sense in that whatsoever.

      1. No, I’m not saying Toyota’s place is better, but last year they have used it, right? It was a last resort plan. What’s your point? Defending Ferrari in general or their methods?
        To me, something is very wrong over there – second year in a row.
        One might start to wonder what this is, really.

      2. Kay says:

        Now that’s something new. Ferrari used Toyota’s colongne factory last year?! LOL u must be on a different planet.

        Ferrari’s factory is exactl the same place that produced consecutive championships back in early 2000s, why would it suddenly be a problem to be there? Plus you really think Ferrari would move there? Come on get real.

      3. PMain says:

        I don’t know about having to move to Toyota’s facilities, but that wind tunnel in Maranello has been busted for two years now.

      4. S Brown says:

        Kay, no need to be rude.

        Ferrari used Toyotas wind tunnel last year. Aldo Costa described it as “state of the art” at the time. Ferrari were having serious issues over correlation from wind tunnel to track after increasing the size/scale of their wind tunnel.

      5. anil says:

        He’s referring to using their Wind Tunnel, which they used last year to help with correlation issues. It was well know Toyota had a great wind tunnel.

      6. Bob says:

        Kay, makes plenty of sense if Petes house has equipment that gives the same results on track as it does in simulation.

        You must be a casual viewer . . . . .

      7. Kay says:

        Yer Bob, moving the whole factory to Toyota would do Ferrari’s brand and image a lot of good. Think that through.

    3. Don Farrell says:

      Ferrari leave Maranello and move to Germany??? lol you’d be ripping the heart out of the Italy if Ferrari left Maranello!!! Move the Toyota wind-tunnel to Maranello… brick by brick. :)

      1. Kevin Green says:

        cloning the tunnel structure and taking the viable conponents so to speak for use would not be unrealistic and save a hell of a cost on getting supplied/developing a brand new set up surely!

  21. jay jacob says:

    Totally agree. Again James, depth is what i crave in reading your articles.

    In ’09 we saw Fisicella replace Massa but could not match Kimi’s pace; i do hope Perez’s management doesn’t take the same path.

    James, using the same machinery, is it the difference in driving style an explanation for Massa’s lackluster, or is Alonso’s skill-set far more superior?

    1. James Allen says:

      Confidence, ability to adapt. A poor car will highlight difference in quality between drivers- look at 1996 with Schumacher and Irvine. As the car got better 1998 and 1999 Irvine got closer

      1. jay jacob says:

        Thanks James.

      2. Dan G says:

        Nando can obviously deal with a looser rear end better than Massa.

        Without the EBD this year the much poorer performing RB is giving Seb a harder time compared to Webber. Though I guess the RB is not in the same league as the F2012 issues.

        Goes to show though that Massa really has struggled since his return from injury when the other drivers in top teams are pretty closely matched.

  22. Matt Will. says:

    So if Perez is brought to Ferrari, this could imply two things:

    a)Massa is out of pace
    b)Alonso is struggling with the car as nobody could.

    In fact, I’m not convinced of a real problem with Massa, but only a problem with Alonso. He’s driving a dog car since 2008, this could have helped to achieve his hability on dog cars, and he’s possibily the only driver on the grid being able to drive a complete race in difficult conditions everytime, every lap. Remember Vettel talking about Alonso when he was at Renault, he couldn’t believe how that car was driven seeing the rear moving in such that way when Seb was following the Renault in a free practice. Other fact, when Alonso drove so well (last year, in Dubai, I think) when he had a broken clutch and he needed to accelerate a bit the engine every time he reduced one gear. Or last year when in Monaco, under some pressure from Ferrari after a crash in the free practice, he arrived 5th after starting from last positions, without crashing any other car (Hamilton-Massa example?)

    I think Alonso is a contundent driver at every lap in every condition, and there are few drivers with that level of efficience, confidence and concentration over a complete GP.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      My friend, you are referring to the 2010 Malaysian GP, Alonso, practically from the start, had gearbox issues which prevented downchanges to work effectively.
      In a racing car, it is essential as part of the braking for corners, that downchanges happen when the driver requests them otherwise the car flies off the road etc due to loss of traction.
      Yet Alonso, who had qualified near the back due to bad weather in qualifying, overtook drivers up to 5th place, was fighting Button and had proved quicker than Massa in a perfectly healthy Ferrari.
      His engine cried enough 2 laps from the end. That was a very special drive

  23. Nathan says:

    Results count in this business and I would take a great driver over a great guy any day of the week (especially Sundays!). If Massa isn’t scoring consistantly points by mid season then he has to go. As far as Perez is concerned if they offer him the seat he has to take it. A chance to drive the red car may never come up again. It may be a little bit of dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t but F1 isn’t about being fair.

  24. Melzebub says:

    2 problems, the Sauber is probably a better car than the Ferrari, so why would he want to move this year ?

    If Perez is as good as we think, he will beat Alonso, and we all know what happens when that is “allowed” … toys, pram etc.

    Alonso may run his mouth via his PR department these days and some may believe he really did win a GP through talent, not mainly through a lot of luck, but underneath it all, he knows the truth and the thought of the likeable talented Mexican arriving and beating him will be causing him a lot of lost sleep !

    Given the unpleasant attitude towards Latinos in Spain, he and his fans are gong to find it a very bitter pill to swallow.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes but the Ferrari will surely develop more than the Sauber purely for budget and manpower reasons

      1. Melzebub says:

        Certainly you are right James, but, with the Sauber easy on tyres and Perez seemingly excellent at exploiting that factor, I am not too sure he would be better off in Red.

        The Ferrari, even when “fixed”, is looking like it may suffer the now traditional Maranello flaw of having a [too] narrow window of operation.

      2. James Allen says:

        Not just easy on the tyres, the Sauber and Williams are actually doing a better job at getting them working than the big teams

      3. Kevin Green says:

        And have you thought he might be keen to get into the Ferrari to cement his place whether the car is great just now or not so he is in a good place for the long term future??? My cat would have thought than one through better, it’s Ferrari not HRT!

      4. Chris Chong says:

        Logically yes, but what if the Sauber happens to be a fundamentally better car that’s easier to improve upon?

        I assume it is inexperience of Kobayashi and Perez in setting up the car that has resulted in fluctuations in performance where, in one weekend, the car (at the hands of the same driver) can be a dog to drive or near the top of the time sheets.

        And when they do get it right, it’s a pretty darn good car.

        Assuming that the Ferrari is indeed behind the Sauber in performance, and would take half a season to catch up, surely it would still be better for Perez to remain in a team and car that he’s obviously comfortable with.

    2. veeru says:

      the one thing that makes sense in your comment is the first line…

      the rest is utter nonsense…never mind the final line…

      where did you get that Gem??

      1. Melzebub says:

        Spain ?

        I live here and know very well the various attitudes of the locals towards foreigners.

        Have a look at the forums there in google chrome, inline translation, utterly unchecked, unremarked racism on show 24/7.

        Sudaccas is the abusive term used for South Americans here, by almost all the Spanish, a shame as they are by far the nicest people I have met in Spain.

    3. CarlH says:

      I highly doubt Perez is anywhere near being able to beat Fernando in equal machinery.

      Maybe he could in the future, but not yet. He hasn’t exactly destroyed Kobayashi over his first season and a bit has he?

      Fernando has dragged a dog of a car to the top of the rankings after two races. You may not like the way he operates (personally, I like the fact that he is ruthless enough to do whatever it takes to win), but many would agree that he is currently the benchmark for every driver in F1.

    4. F1Fan4Life says:

      @Melzebub I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but when you use the term “we” I can only assume you refer to a select group of ignorant fans, which includes you. Nobody in their right mind would pick Perez to drive their car over Alonso, I don’t recall F1 team bosses or drivers ever voting him the best driver in the world. I tried to understand your comment and thinking, and the only way I could was by understanding that there are stupid people in this world.

    5. Nicky Santoro says:

      Get out of here!

      Either you are a xenophobe yourself or have been little to Spain.

      Making sweeping statements about Spanish attitudes to Latin Americans is really out there. And talks volumes of your deep ignorance.

      Spain has yet to have serious racial problems, while having one of the two-three highest immigration populations in Europe and the highest unemployment rate…
      Get your facts right and then sleep on them a few days.

  25. Andy says:

    I think the situation could work well for Ferrari. I think they will keep Massa until Kubica feels ready to drive. The rest of the season will then be testing for Robert. With Ferrari’s tag line being “He can not do any worse than Massa”

    1. anonymous says:

      Kubica will not return, just like Alessandro Nannini.

    2. zombie says:

      Sorry to say, but Kubica’s career is over.There is no ways he can come back into F1 before 2014, and by then it’ll be too late anyways.

    3. Johnny English says:

      Why you people just can’t forget Kubica? Ferrari have one guy who had trauma now they need another one? What is Ferrari – Get Well Soon team? They need to deliver results – not act as reabilitation place.

      1. Andy says:

        Who are us people?

    4. Martinus says:

      Unless Kubica tells his career is over I refuse to cancel him. He is not one of those BS men changing his words every hour. The fact that he hasn’t retired and tries karting and rally car tells me he may be back…

  26. forzaminardi says:

    Thing is, Massa hasn’t had a sniff of a point, so really there no point – no pun intended – persevering if that continues. From Ferrari’s point of view, they clearly know how good Perez might be, so if Massa’s not getting the results they may as well draft in Perez as soon as possible, and while accepting he might not hit the ground running, take a longer-term view of looking toward 2013. OK, he might not score many points in 2012 as he gets used to the car and team, but if Massa’s not scoring any points either then that’s no loss, is it?

    I see Sutil has been in the cheap press clearly trying to position himself as Sauber’s go-to guy if they need a replacement. Wouldn’t it be great if Sauber drafted Heidfeld back…?

  27. Andrew says:

    James off topic but on the subject of teammates what is your view on Nico Rosberg’s start to the year? The Mercedes has shown some raw pace tho still eating the tyres yet it appears it is Schumacher leading the battle and Rosberg behind in qualifying (something he had an edge on Micheal before). Stock is slipping I can’t help but feel…

    1. James Allen says:

      Nico hasn’t performed as expected in first two races, compared to Schumacher. He’s made mistakes in qualifying and the the Mercedes hadn’t been great in the races

      1. Kevin Green says:

        There’s a Jaimie Nico (not Rosberg) and Paul though juggling about in my mind and not only the uses of only one of them come next seasons start at the latest.

        That was a clever clever move swooping in sharp for Jaimie so sharply reckon all will see by the start of next season no matter where his bum parks.

        James
        Do you know if Jaimie has a (if not in current use) get out clause for Ferrari RedBull or Mclaren or all even????

      2. Rang says:

        James, waiting for anarticle on Mercedes – where they are at the moment, where they go from here, what are the actual problems they face – 3 yrs no substantial improvements, Is it so tough that from a race winning car (Brawn GP) they are right at the bottom?Does this not harm their brand value? and finally MSC – what are your thoughts about him driving next season.

        Every little news comes out regarding Mercedes?

      3. Kevin Green says:

        Disagree with that somewhat the car is clearly better its a driver shuffle they need, clearly they would do well to keep Schumacher for testing/development purposes unless of course with replacement drivers they are finding better input from a tech point of view.

        I Think the only part of the car the non fully understanding public would relate to in any way to there own car would be the engine (which is worlds apart from there road car anyway) and with the Mercedes engine clearly being the best with arguably percentage wise (units in use) probably the most reliable??.

        The only factors from F1 that would effect brand to any effect is maybe scandal!!.

  28. jay jacob says:

    Hi again James,

    Push rod vs. Pull rod for front suspension; can you do an article and give an in-depth look on how it affects the car’s handling?

    1. anonymous says:

      As Brundle and a lot of experts say: The teams have pretty good test rigs and I doubt any team won’t be able to get the kinematics right. Ferraris problem don’t seem to be the mechanical grip in slow corners. It’s rather the fast ones where the aero plays a much bigger part. Part of that could be Ferraris attempt to blow the brake duct-winglets instead of the diffuser/rear wing as the others do. Blowing the brake duct winglets affects the unsprung masses, which could be pretty effective, but it’s also a very narrow target to hit with the exhaust plume. So the downforce to the rear wheels may be pretty sensitive to throttle movement, car speed (downwash effect from the air going over the sidepod) and yaw. If you think about it, it makes sense: The Ferrari seems to change its balance multiple times throughout the corner, especially the fast ones. They’re going off throttle and get oversteer, they stamp on the gas and get understeer and then on the exit, when the car is going faster it starts to oversteer again.
      I guess Ferrari will try new exhaust positions and sidepod shapes in the Barcelona tests and probably change or even drop the brake duct winglets. I doubt they would drop the front pull rod suspension for any other than aerodynamic reasons.

      1. jay jacob says:

        Thanks anonymous, really detailed.

        Can you explain a bit more how blowing the brake duct winglets affects the unsprung masses? In particular, the sum of downforce on the rear wheels is rear wing + blown brake duct winglets. I would have thought that at fast corners, downforce from the rear wing is more substantial thus minimizes the effects of the blown winglets. Also, hot air is less dense and coupled with a smaller surface area, i’m not sure how much downforce is contributed in comparison to the rear wings.

        Just to add another idea, what do you think about heat accumulation & retention as a result of the blown brake ducts, and its effects on the car’s handling?

        In fast corners, more exhaust air is channeled to the brake ducts increasing the rear tyres’ temperature. Normally, the front tyres are heated thru braking and rear tyres are heated thru acceleration; the net effect is a consistent (more or less) tyre temperature differential between the front & rear tyres over the course of a few laps. But, blowing exhausts to the rear brake ducts introduces a new factor that alters this consistency and makes it less predictable; more importantly, it’s very spikey caused by quick throttle changes during entry, mid & exit of high speed corners.

  29. TheGreatTeflonso says:

    James, what is your opinion on the Karthikeyan/Vettel spat? After Vettel basically referred to him as a cucumber and an idiot, Karthikeyan just called now has called him a crybaby (I totally agree).

    What was your opinion on the actual incident, should Karthikeyan have been penalised? Nico Hulkenberg has apparently voiced support for Kathikeyan here. Just curious about what you thought of the whole thing.

    1. dzolve says:

      Seems a very strange decision by the stewards to me. I can’t really understand either, why Jenson wasn’t penalised during the race for his crash??

    2. **Paul** says:

      Interesting. When the BBC interview Karthikeyan he said he ran out onto the marbles and had to cut back in, unfortunately as he did so he caught Vettels rear tyre with his front wing. The onboard shot shows Vettel didn’t change his line or turn back across – so IMO Vettel wasn’t at fault, but it was a racing incident.

      The incident with Button was purely Buttons fault, dropping it under braking and catching the car infront, a bit like what happened to Jenson at Spa when Vettel hit him ironically.

    3. Justin Bieber says:

      I think Kathikeyan and HRT are unfit to race in F1

  30. chris green says:

    Massa can be quick in the right circumstances. However there are a number of issues about Massa’s driving. He isn’t good in the wet and his ability in wheel to wheel racing could be a lot better. This for me means that Massa can’t be rated as one of the greats, more of a journeyman. That is a problem in a field of drivers bristling with talent.
    He has had to endure a demotion to a clear number 2 so his self belief has taken a battering.
    Maybe Alonso can take some responsibility for that because we saw at mclaren that Alonso spits the dummy if he’s not on top.
    Ferrari will find it difficult to win a manufacturers championship if Alonso continues sucks to suck the oxygen out of the second driver.
    I don’t think Ferrari have adapted to the new era of no testing.
    Massa seems to be the whipping boy for Ferrari’s inability to build a decent car. only themselves to blame.

    1. Front runner says:

      Have you ever seen a team contesting the pole position achieved by one of its drivers? This happened to Alonso,… If it would have happened to Hamilton …

      1. Justin Bieber says:

        That’s irrelevant when you take into account that Alonso is responsible for global warming.

      2. Front runner says:

        Very good

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        and 9/11 and I remember seeing him on one of those galleons when the Armada came over…

      4. Kevin Green says:

        don’t recall that! can a picture get any grimmer?!

  31. MISTER says:

    Hi James.
    Many thanks for keeping us informed with all the news and gossips in this 3-week break.
    I am a bit off-topic, but I am quite concerned that no media except BBC had a short article about Vettel calling Karthikeyan an idiot.

    What’s that all about? Is the media afraid to publish and criticise Vettel just because he is a double world champion? Is the media afraid that such article will upset RBR? Or is it me that thinks such thing is a big deal and in reality is not?

    If I remember correctly, when Lewis said the stewards penalised him because maybe he’s black..that was quoted everywhere in the media.

    I think is was unacceptable but it looks that nobody cares or maybe they think is is acceptable behavious from our champion.

    1. KRB says:

      Horner basically said the same too (“HRT played their part”). For my mind, Vettel swung out far too quickly after passing. If Hamilton had done the same, you could be sure that the anti-Lewis brigade would be going on about how he doesn’t look out for other drivers, etc.

      The worst that can be said about HRT is that they were maybe a bit clumsy, and unpredictable being approached from behind. If I was a driver, I would always approach the back of an HRT like it was the back of a horse … very carefully.

      Jenson took the blame for his collision; Seb should do the same, or at least take partial blame.

      1. MISTER says:

        KRB, as far as I’m concerned, even if the HRT driver was guilty..Vettel should never speak like that. That was plain rude of him and I feel that the media doesn’t want to upset the champion with such an article.

        But then again, maybe it’s just me who thinks that was not apropriate.

      2. anonymous says:

        Whenever a driver is “less diplomatic” and speaks emotionally people say he should not talk this way. It’s usually the same people who complain that drivers have become public relation robots who are always politically correct and hide their feelings. That’s ridiculous!
        Just remember the days when James Hunt fell asleep in the cockpit, because he was still drunk from last night, when Piquet called Mansell’s wife ugly and had a fist fight with Eliseo Salazaar… Vettel calls Kartikeyan an idiot for not getting out of the way fast enough.. so what?

      3. Methos says:

        I totally agree. Vettel’s outburst was unacceptable and is not being covered as it should in the media. I also agree that if Hamilton had done the same thing, the drums would be beating much louder…

    2. **Paul** says:

      If you watched the BBC coverage you’ll also know that NK said he, not Vettel, cut back across. His reason was that he was on marbles and the kerb and was getting wheelspin. So technically NK did drive into Vettel.

      It was a racing incident, hence it’s lack of prominence in the press I imagine.

      1. [MISTER] says:

        Yes, racing incident..but we are not talking about the incident. I am talking about the fact that Vettel called another driver an idiot.

        Even if Narain did move to the right..he was trying to keep control of the car. In first instance Vettel should leave plenty of room between his car and especially backmarkers.

      2. captainj84 says:

        if you remember back to turkey 2010 after he crashed into webber in a similar overtake (when he didn’t leave enough room) he got out the car and gestured that webber was an idiot putting his finger up to his head and twirling it round. i think we will see a more negative and more petulant vettel if the RB doesn’t imrpove.

  32. Kay says:

    I told you, Ferrari were wrong in dumping Kimi in favour of Massa back in 2009!

    1. Johnny English says:

      Good point though!

      1. Rang says:

        Did they not dump in favour of Alonso? Massa had a strong season during that time

    2. jay jacob says:

      I’ve been a Kimi fan since he first set foot in a Sauber in ’01, but Massa’s accident in ’09 played an emotional part in Ferrari’s decision.

    3. S Brown says:

      Except they dumped Kimi for Fernando

  33. Jason C says:

    I think you’re bang on there James about moving Perez mid-season. Question is, as a Ferrari driver, would he have much choice in the matter if he got the call?

    Much better, as has been suggested already, would be to switch to a stop-gap driver for the remainder of the season (if Massa isn’t able to get on terms, of course), and then bring Perez in for next year possibly.

    I know it’s not exactly productive to throw names out there randomly, but there are quite a few drivers out there with experience that could get the nod.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Defo 4 or 5 decent reachable options.

  34. Nil says:

    How bad is the F2012 compared to the 2009 truck?

    1. captainj84 says:

      rumour has it the hrt designer found a copy of the f2012 blueprints and said to his team “look at this heap of crap!” :)

  35. Ant says:

    Ummmmm – ok, some interesting points of views over the last few days and months about Massa. Ferrari’s loyalty should be admired, could you see McLaren, Redbull or even Mercedes sticking with a driver who has grossly underperformed for the best part of 2 years? Torro Rosso got rid of 2 drivers because in their eyes they weren’t cutting it! In terms of Massa been broken by the ‘Alonso is faster than you’ I don’t buy it. F1 is cut throat, all the drivers know what they’re getting into, if he didn’t like it why has he chosen to stay? On his day Massa has been sublime – Turkey 2006, Brazil 2006 and 08 and in races where he’s been robbed by the team such as Hungary 08 and Singapore 08 but he’s also been nowhere when things don’t quite go his way – the mark of the GREAT drivers are give me a perfect car and I’ll blitz the field, give a mediocre car and still win. . .Massa doesn’t fit the bill

    I really feel sorry for him because you can see he’s a genuine nice guy one of the good ones. But his time looks to have passed, no one wants to admit that, but it happens to everyone at some stage.

    Going forward Ferrari won’t put Perez in this season, it makes no sense and they aren’t that stupid, they need to concentrate on developing the car to make it the best they can, its unlikely they’ll deliver something which is the class of the field now but if they can produce a car which is semi decent then Alonso will be in the mix

  36. Nitrobox says:

    Totally agree with you James. It wouldn’t be wise to put Perez into such unstable machninery like F2012. It’s a pity that Kubica is not ready yet to jump in, but maybe (only maybe)he will be able to drive F1 later this season. Ferrari could then replace Massa after august break, if he still underperforms and see if Robert is an option for 2013. Else, it must be Perez.

  37. Nick says:

    As you know the “newcomers” could deliver only when the car is good.
    If not – then only masters could do the magic, like Alonso does now.

    If Ferrari would still have a middle car no one could help them, they need second Alonso or Hamilton who could deliver under the slow car, so not Perez, not Button, not Webber, not other 12 names …

    Taking someone else, instead of Massa, is a gambling, they need to sort out the problem with the car and not with the driver first.

    When the car is good just remember, at Renault, Fisichella won some races and what happened in 2009 at Ferrari and he didn’t have any injury???

    I presume if Massa was at Sauber right now he would win this race and probably be in top 5 at previous race, you don’t need to bother the tyres much like it was before with Bridgestone. Ferrari eats tyres and no one except Alonso knows how to deal with it and that’s the magic.

  38. Hmm. says:

    Massa in my opinion has been over-estimated all his career. Can you honestly name one teammate he was able to beat consistently?

    Even in his Sauber-days he wasn’t faster than Heidfeld or Fisichella. Then came Ferrari first with Schumacher on the decline still being faster, and then Raikkonen who was WC once and would have been a second time, if not for mechanical failures.

    Massa is a good driver on his better days, but really not an exceptional one.

    1. Ben says:

      Schumacher on the decline was still one of the best drivers of all time and he was better than Raikkonen in 2008 and much better in 2009 up until his accident, he had about double the points.

  39. mael says:

    James, there has been talk in some quarters about Webber finding himself in a Ferrari next year.

    But with Massa’s seemingly rapid decline and Perez confirming his bona fides, do you think that this is really a possibility considering the current circumstances?

  40. Mike J says:

    Good interesting article.

    I tend to agree that replacing Massa at this point is fraught with bigger issues.

    Putting Perez in an unstable car, one that was described after testing as having a very small operating band, may only see him performing the same as Massa, or worse.

    So then what does this prove and what benefit is it to Ferrari? Smedleys reaction was very telling from the pit wall. The current state of the car means that it will not improve until Spain?

    I believe that Ferrari will wait on any decisions until the major upgrades arrive to the car in Spain and after the mid-season testing.

    If Massa doesn’t perform after that then I would look outside the current drivers (i.e. yes even Rubens to the despair of others on this site) to complete the season.

    Leave Perez alone with Sauber for the rest of the year and then start a fresh next year to me, would be for the betterment of both parties. Let’s face it Koby seemed to be on everyone lips last year and now?.Give Perez more time.

    One thing that did get my attention was Massa plan to go back home and not to Italy to sort out the problems. Has he lost his mojo?. He certainly seems to have quite openly from the German GP issues. That is sad since he is quite a nice bloke and just seems to be up against everyone and everything at present.

    1. Mike J says:

      Sorry, Massa changed his plans to attend the meeting. That’s better. And also the flag raising ceremony – gotta love Ferrari!. It would be great to see one though.

      1. Scott D says:

        I dont think it’s a case of Massa wanting to change his plans, more like Ferrari changing them for him!

      2. Mike J says:

        your probably right!.

  41. Matt (the vote counter) says:

    James – I agree with you.

    Look at what happened to Fisi in 2009. He almost won at Spa in the Force India before stepping into another dog of a Ferrari and failing miserably to get to terms with it.

    Fisi might not be the greatest ever F1 driver but he was no slouch.

    It underlined how great a job Kimi and Felipe Massa were doing at the time to keep the Ferrari in the points. I think Kimi started and finished 3rd at Monza, with Fisi qualifying 14th on his debut, finishing 9th, a full minute behind Kimi.

    The smart thing for Perez to do is to complete his year with Sauber. He certainly shouldn’t jump ship until Ferrari sort the car out because he’d end up getting a psychological hammering, having to watch Alonso monster his times until he learnt the car’s idiosyncrasies, in the most public of theatres around.

  42. Andrew says:

    What happened to Fisichella?

    1. PMain says:

      It was like watching a moth being compelled towards the blue (in this case red) fluoro lights of a bug zapper.

      1. anonymous says:

        Very well put! The car must habe been utterly difficult to drive.

  43. Don Draper says:

    If I were making these decisions at the Scuderia I would hire Webber in 2013/14 and see his career out. He’s shown so far this year (although it is early days) that he is happier and can handle an unbalanced car a touch better than SV. All those years in Minardi’s, Jaguars and Williamses are paying off. He would also bring a wealth of intel from his years working closely with Adrian Newey.

    Losing the blown diffuser looks like it has made the RB8 a bit less stable at the rear and a touch more pointy at the front, characteristics that Alonso can deal with better than most. Low speed downforce seems to be affected also. There are obviously a few other issues with the F2012 as James and Pat Fry have stated but ultimately it boils down to an unbalanced and unpredictable car.

    Interesting to note that MS seems to have gotten a handle on the Mercedes better than Nico also, and a pointy front end is something he always liked, Eddie Irvine found his settings un-drivable at times.

    I wonder how much of this unpredictability in the front/rear balance of these three cars has to do with removing the downforce generated by the blown diffuser. Webber seems to have gotten on top of the pirelli’s this season also and he and Alonso are reportedly good mates so they could do worse.

    Perez has plenty of time to mature, he’s only 21, a couple more years developing the Sauber wouldn’t do him any harm at all. If I were him I’d wait until Alonso and Webber had sorted the car out, won the constructors championship and Alonso (or Webber?) had brought the WDC to them and then I’d go. Much less pressure and much higher chance of becoming Alonso’s understudy ala Massa with MSC later down the track.

    That’s the problem with the facebook/twitter world now, everybody jumps on the new flavour immediately, not to detract from Perez or his obvious great skills, but really he’s 21 and has one years F1 experience.

    This is Ferrari we are talking about, the Italian press and incessant pressure to win has seen somebody as skilled as Kimi get turfed out after winning a WDC for them (and a season in a similarly difficult car) and Perez would be entering what is very much Alonso’s lair at a time when he himself hasn’t delivered the silverware..

    Having said that he might go in and blow his doors off but I doubt it..

    My humble advice is to sit on your hands Sergio, you’ve got plenty of time, learn the trade under the watchful eye of Peter Sauber and go to the big time when you’ve got all the tools.. Difficult to stay at the top if you fail at one of the big teams as Massa will soon find out.

    1. Andrew Kirk says:

      It is a tough one for young drivers in terms of what they do next in their career after impressing in a mid field team. Go up against someone like Alonso or stay put and maybe wait for another chance at the table.
      Hamilton of course came into the sport at the top and matched Alonso when they were together. But he had uncle Ron sitting in his corner and Alonso at times driving below standard (Canada 07). Also Hamilton’s time at the top under the spotlight has affected his driving. But if one doesn’t take their chance to go drive at the top with the big boys one might become a Heidfeld (quick but always overlooked).

  44. James,

    What do you make of rumours in Spanish media saying that Ferrari will abandon the pull rod suspension in a B Spec to be unveiled in Barcelona ? Any substance to them ?

    Personally I think Alonso may have alot to do with the pullrod development path. If I am not mistaken his Minardi in 2001 had a similar front end.

    Williams have impressed me most in the first 2 races. The battle in midfield this season is going to be titanic ! All depends on who has cash to keep pushing development.

    Williams fortunes would appear to be tied to reelection of Hugo Chavez. They need a big year to try to capture some major sponsors. It would be interesting to monitor their share price as Venezuelan election approaches.

    1. anonymous says:

      It’s more likely Ferrari will adjust the exhaust position and the sidepod shape instead. I’ve explained that in more detail in an ealier comment above.

    2. MISTER says:

      Indeed the midfield battle is amazing. I am a bit dissapointed by Force India. They don’t seem to have the pace of Williams, Sauber or even Torro Rosso.
      Just like you said Patrick, it all depends on the development race. Good luck to all of them.

    3. You think of all the cars Alonos drove, he choose to advise the technical team to look at the 2001 Minardi??

      1. Hey James,

        Thanks for the reply.

        No, I don’t think he told them to look at that specifically but I think if Pat Fry asked him for his opinion of pushrod suspension as a concept, in line with a radical approach, he may have said he had no issues with it.

        His performances in 2001 were pretty good,considering the car beneath him. I remember him harrying Fisichella’s Bennetton in Spain and throttling the car in Japan.

        I m hoping Ferrari can turn it around.
        It will be great to have as many drivers as possible fighting for the title. Who do you fancy ? Smart money, at this early stage, would say winner will be a British driver from a team based in Woking !

  45. Jiri says:

    I agree that for Perez would be very risky to move during the season but next year should be definitely there. As much as Felipe is likeable boy, his driving is under the bar now. In case that Ferrari needs a replacement, pretty much doubt Fisichella would fill in as he is out for 2 years and no experience with Pirelli, besides he does not like unstable car beneath… ditto for Trulli, although at least he raced last year on Pirelli and an Italian in the cockpit would please the country and journos… Barrichello was quite outspoken when left Ferrari and I still pretty much doubt his skills… look at his Indycar debut nd think about other F1 exdrivers gor there like Mansell… However, there is a certain German driver with few seasons under his belt curretnly without a job and has nothing to lose as he is almost finished anyway regarding F1. the only problem is he is taller than current Ferrari drivers… Sutil.. unless there is miraculous return of Kubica :-)

    1. Luis says:

      Just trying to compare apples to apples: Mansell stepped on Indycar racing for Newmann-Haas, a top team with plenty of resources (technical and financial)by that time. Regarding KV, Rubens current team, it is a midsize team with a medium budget and an average technical staff rating. Rubens car and staff had been built and gathered e few weeks ago – all pre season testing had been done with Kanaan car/engineers.

  46. James Bond says:

    I like Massa. A lot. He should go to Sauber and win races for them :)
    Let Perez drive that fancy red car.
    I really think Felipe never really got on top of the Pirelli tires and that is his major problem.

    1. But wasn’t he claiming in 2010 that he felt he’d perform better on the Pirellis?

      1. James Bond says:

        I’m not sure he said that, he needs strong front end, and Pirellis are far less “grippy” in that department (compared to Bridgestones)

  47. PaulL says:

    I’m amazed some people still champion the theory that Massa’s downturn is signficantly linked to team-orders at Germany 2010.

    Two points:
    1) A large part of the reason he was asked to move over then was because Alonso stood a significantly better chance of winning the title. The main reason for this was that Alonso was out-performing him in the championship. I think you’re hard-pressed to make a case that Massa’s performance relative to Alonso only dipped after “Fernando is faster than you”.
    2) Rubens Barrichello makes an interesting case study of self-belief and team orders. For one, the race after Austria 2002 he actually won, plus three more as the season progressed where him and Schumi finished 1-2 (two of which he won fair and square).
    Did Silverstone 2003 and Valencia/Italy 2009 came about despite having a decimated self-belief?
    Why didn’t say Germany 2008 irrecoverably beleaguer Massa’s confidence and prevent him from the awesome comeback drive in Hungary?

    I’ll finish saying I really hope Massa is able to pick up. I like the guy and am at a loss to explain why he no longer seems anything like the same guy who fought so brilliantly for the 2008 championship.
    All the same though, it’s a dereliction of intellect to say Germany 2010 broke him and is a significant reason why he’s no longer a formidable competitor.

    1. Chris C says:

      Well said.
      In my opinion it has mainly to do with his accident. The reality is that he is lucky to be alive. Its impossible not to have an effect on the guy.

  48. panagiotis says:

    Yeah they should bring Fisicho back, at the end of the day a well missed Italian driver on the grid, he might also help a lot in the development. Anyway, they will not replace Felipao for many reasons. Unless otherwise, di Monte really get to a point with the whole 2012 project, where the only option left for him would be to write recipient names on maranello cards postal, starting with the one who doesn’t deliver in the team, say F. Massa.

  49. tom in adelaide says:

    I think Ferrari recognise that the second seat is the least of their worries right now. I think they’d be quite happy for Massa to do nothing more than keep his nose clean and help out Alonso the best he can.

  50. Stevie P says:

    My feeling is that Massa will stay in the car for this season (although I must admit that during last season I said I expected Perez to be in a Ferrari in 2012), but after that they will look elsewhere for a No 2 driver to backup Alonso.

    I could see Webber going there, but only if he were given equal footing with Alonso – which won’t happen! – so scratch that idea.

    Traditionally Ferrari go for experienced drivers, but I have a hunch they may go for a less experienced driver to learn from \ backup Alonso; a bit like when they first took on Massa. Perez fits the bill, as do some others.

    I like Massa as a person; as a driver, I have always felt that Rob Smedley has had to do a lot of “cheerleading” to bolster Massa along… even before the incident in Hungary.

    It would be interesting to look into Driver \ Engineer relationship(s) James… who keeps the comments to a minimum? who is always on the radio? do they fraternise away from the office (track) etc, etc… whada-ya-reckon? :-)

  51. Quattro_T says:

    Why is all attention pointed at replacing Massa with Checo when Sutil, a proven and determined driver, is sitting by the phone waiting for the call? It would be much less complicated hiring him for the reminder of the season, and letting Checo go on with his work at Sauber for he reminder of his contract. I am not saying it would be a smart move dropping Massa though, just highlighting the possibility. I do not think Sutil would perform any worse that Checo would in that Ferrari.

    1. Quattro_T says:

      I know some would say, why not Jaime Alguersuari. Well, I may be way off, but I have often felt there is some kind of tention between him and Alonso, that would not help the harmony within the team during these difficult times, if true.

      Alonso has previously, when asked by media how he rates Alguersuari, refered to him (only) as OK/good driver. And Alguersuari was not precisly lavishing Alonso with praise over his Sepang performance (as he should) in the radio5 coverage.

  52. Adam says:

    James,
    All of this speculation about Masa is written from the perspective of Massa as a good driver who has gone bad, which I don’t believe is supported by the facts. He, like Vettle, has won from the front. But the number of competitive over taking maneuvers he has completed without incident can be counted with very few fingers. He has never come from midfield to the front on his own talent rather than a pass in the pits or a DNF or some other driver’s error gifting him a place or two. He is not a Button who when things go bad says “I have to do all I can with this situation and make points”. Rather he recently seems to get desperate to hold off people trying to pass him rather than pass those in front. His attitude and thinking are backwards. Massa is a good test driver; he has never been a good race driver.

    To me this is the season Vettle proves himself as a world class driver, from lower in the pack, with a less than the best car, can he do what Alonso did this past weekend, get a win.

    I am not an Alonso fan, but he proved his worth categorically this past weekend by driving for a win when the odds said it was not there! Alonso can do it and has in the past for years, Button can do it, the best drivers can, but not Massa and that has been his weakness long before he was hit in the head with a spring.

  53. Charalampos says:

    If you check Massa’s performance in 2010 and 2011 he was stronger at the first 3 races of the season. I think that it is possible that both seasons he believed in him at the beginning, but Fernando being faster than him gave him a blow twice and then he could not repeat his better performances at the beginning of the third year with Alonso in the same car. I think he has a few extra adaptation problems at the moment that he can overcome, but I believe he needs a miracle to believe in him 100% again because someone cannot really control his subconscious or unconscious. If Massa could not do it within 2 years then chances are it will not happen these days also.

    But i see no point for Perez to replace Massa. He has less to win than to loose and it looks purely a bad risk to take. Sauber has a good pace anyway and he can make a lot of things there, rather than rushing into the unknown just because Ferrari has history or the money.

    Noone can say that Ferrari will finish higher than Sauber in the standings this year moreover that Prez’s results solely would be better if he went to Ferrari now. So Sergio should stay at Sauber to prove himself more, so that teams would take him more seriously after. Because if he stays at Sauber it is certain he can prove himself again and again to the team bosses and for them consistency means a lot. But if he goes now to Ferrari and he does not prove that consistent and quick for whatever reason what he did so far will be forgotten. It is just a matter of following the route that enables you to build a better cv.

    Noone seems the ideal candidate to replace Massa, therefore whoever he is will be a surprise and therefore I think that we cannot exclude anyone. Whoever Ferrari chooses will be a risk, but maintaining Massa is already risky and the risk increases as he does not better his performances at the next races. So one wonders who will be the lucky.

  54. darth_patate says:

    here’s a weird idea i got considering Felipe Massa’s replacement :

    1/ferrari is about prestige
    2/ferrari wants a solid number2 to bring in the constructor championship while not “annoying” the number1
    3/brazilian driver have a proven track record in that role

    wouldn’t associating Ferrari’s name and Senna’s name be a match made in heaven if bruno shows progress at williams ?

  55. Danny says:

    James, thanks for the excellent article once again. There’s been some suggestions from the Media, including Gary Anderson I believe, that Ferrari is abandoning the Pull Rod front suspension and going back to the more conventional Push Rod. Is there any truth to that? Can your sources provide any info?

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve heard rumours both ways on this. I think it’s unlikely, but we will see

  56. Tim says:

    Who is Ferrari’s reserve driver these days? Surely they sorted that after Badoer was such a let down. Is it Fisi? I think calling up the reserve and making Massa reserve is the best way to act for Ferrari. And yet one can’t help but think that Massa and all the bad press he’s getting take the focus off the dismal state of the car. Some media savvy Ferrari guru has likely figured that out. Once the car comes good, expect Massa to be dropped. It’ll be like a package of changes. B-spec car, new drivers, too.

  57. Alysha says:

    Perez will be in a Ferrari for the US Grand Prix in Texas. Makes so much commercial sense if Ferrari has a dismal year as predicted.

  58. Qiang says:

    Let’s presume Massa’s problem continue to the point that Ferrari has no choice. James, do you think there is a slight chance that Robens or Adrian Sutil could fill the gap? Jarno Trulli is also out of job and he is an italian.

  59. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    IMO Decisions have to be made and Ferrari has the upper hand regarding Sauber or Perez, the laters simply cannot say no!

    Now it is a good opportunity for Ferrari to get Perez.

    There is any problem there that cannot be fixed with money, it’s a business for everybody. Even Massa can retire with some good money.

    Esteban Gutierrez (reserve driver, also mexican) could drive for Sauber, given that Kobayashi is already an experienced driver in the grid.

    And Sauber has already got a bunch of points this year for being happy enough.

    Move on.

  60. SP says:

    I hear rumours that Ferrari may revise (maybe heavily) last years car and introduce it for the European season. Anyone else heard such rumours?

    1. James Allen says:

      Why would they do that?

      1. sankalp says:

        maybe bcoz tat would be a good base to build upon…like what Mclaren did …a extension or evolution of their last year’s car…nd last year;s ferrari was way better than F2012…they afterall won the only race (Silverstone) without the EBD…

  61. Puffing says:

    Howevar, Jaime has praised Alonso’s driving in Sepang in Spanish media.

  62. Puffing says:

    The previos comente of mine was intended to answering to Audi Quattro’s reply to post #51. Sorry about the mismatch.

  63. Agent Orange says:

    Person I feel for the most is Rob Smedley. That man must be at the breaking point of giving up. Everyone bangs on about the “accident” but Massa was on the slide long before then.

    Going by radio broadcasts Smedley seemingly has to coach Massa around every corner of every lap. From the comfort of my arm chair Massa does not appear to be a particularly clever driver.

    I hear Domenicali in other articles is making a point about Massa almost winning the WDC in 2008. Well it’s 2012 now and far from looking to improve this year it appears the threat of losing his seat has demotivated him further.

    Schumi won 7 WDC titles in the past. Can’t see any of those as a reason why he should be a Ferrari driver now.

    1. Dizzy says:

      “Everyone bangs on about the “accident” but Massa was on the slide long before then.”

      How do you come to that conclusion?

      Just before the Hungary accident Massa had been outpacing Kimi Raikkonen since the start of the season & had come off a series of strong points finishes including a podium.

      At the time of his accident, Massa had 22 points, Kimi only 12.

      1. Agent Orange says:

        22pts after 9 races. Average of 2.4 pts per race. In 2009 money that’s an average position of 7th. This was also a year where Massa said the Mclaren was the slowest he’d ever seen it.

        The Ferrari was bad in 2009 granted but beating Kimi in the year Kimi wasn’t motivated and ultimately retired isn’t something to shout about.

        2006 – Schumacher finished ahead of Massa 11-3
        2007 – Kimi finished ahead of Massa 9-4
        2008 – Massa finished ahead of Kimi 8-3 *BUT* in qualifying the average gap was just 0.001 seconds
        2009 – Kimi beats Massa 6-4 in quali but Massa 3-2 in races

        You’re correct Massa did get a podium in 2009. 3 races after Kimi got one. Kimi went on to get another 3 or 4 podiums in a poorly performing Ferrari. Could Massa of got more? Who knows.

        The way I see it Massa was crushed my Schumacher. Kimi joins and beats Massa. Massa just starts getting the upper hand on Kimi at a time Kimi is disillusioned with F1 and lacking in motivation when he has the crash.

        He comes back to find Alonso whipping him repeatedly. Year after year of being constantly beaten by your, admittedly F1 Champion, team mates must be difficult to take.

        You could possibly argue he was just starting to turn things around at the time of his accident but he was certainly not good enough before.

        He’s been at Ferrari for 6 years. If his finest moment is taking 2 years to get the upper hand on a team mate disillusioned with the sport then I don’t see he has much to shout about.

        Massa is a decent enough driver. Not the sharpest tool in the box by a long shot but certainly good enough to be in F1.

        I just don’t think he’s good enough to be in a team with expectations like Ferrari. A midfield team would suit assuming he didn’t crash into everyone else.

  64. dzolve says:

    Hi James

    Just wondering, if Perez joins Ferrari would Rob Smedley be his race engineer or is his position under threat as a consequence as well?

  65. Paul Jones says:

    Ferrari have been incredibly patient with Massa, and I hope he improves enough to retain his Ferrari seat. There is time for the car to improve and finish higher in the standings, but Felipe needs to step it up.

  66. lockster says:

    Here’s a question, what if Ferrari decide to begrudgingly persist with Massa for the rest of the season, but in the process of developing the car, he suddenly finds how to use the Pirelli tyres and pumps out 2-3 victoriesin the tail half of the season. That would give them a significant driver conundrum…

  67. David Smith says:

    James,

    I read on the official Ferrai F1 site the following;

    After some routine medical and physical checks at the Physiology Centre in Forli, Fernando was back in Maranello this afternoon, to go over the current situation with Domenicali, Technical Director Pat Fry and his race engineer, Andrea Stella.

    Any idea what the routine medical/physical checks would have been about? its the first time I have heard this one.

    Thanks
    Dave

    1. Holly says:

      check alonso twitter

      1. David Smith says:

        But Alonso does not have a twitter account so whatever twitter account for Alonso you follow it is not his Official one! Ferrari do not allow their drivers to twitter :)

      2. James Allen says:

        That has changed now. They both do

  68. Koby Fan says:

    Historically, Ferrari rarely draft in rookie drivers, let alone during midseason. Gilles Villeneuve aside, even Alesi had a few seasons at Tyrrell before coming across.

    Ideally they want Massa to perform like he did in 2nd half of 2010 – be Fernando’s wingman and collect constructors points.

    I would be shocked if Checo was in a Ferrari this year (other than for academy testing). I think Checo-Ferrari has always been a long term project. The shorter term project is to get Slim/Fernandez & co. to take a bigger stake in Sauber and mould the team around Checo to become a true Latin American F1 team. Williams with MAL & SEN could beat Sauber in this branding race. In fact commercially, its more likely that Checo and another Latin driver (maybe even Massa) are paired up at Sauber in the future.

    My money is on Webber being on top of Ferrari’s #2 driver list. Its a win-win situation all round.

    There will definitely be some musical chairs for 2013.

    BTW, how come Ferrari don’t have an official reserve driver? Is still Fisichella, Gene? Or are they only GT racers now?

    1. Don Draper says:

      Well Webber is wearing a red Mugello top at the unveiling of his Tussaud stunt double.. You read it here first!!!

      1. Kevin Green says:

        Geez so he his! never noticed at the time of the article getting posted, very interesting he will be getting a few kidney punches back at redbull for that one.

        If he was not currently outperforming performing Vettel and with Vettel not leading the standings/dominating they would prob slow his car down in some way or form!

    2. Jon W says:

      Interesting thoughts Koby on the move to a Latin American team for Sauber, although I’m not sure where Kobayashi fits in all of that…other than Peter Sauber keeping him in favour of Massa as you suggest.

      However, I don’t see a Webber move to Ferrari as being win-win. It might be a win for Ferrari, but unless Webber gets dumped by Red Bull (no reason based on recent results) then why move to a less competitive car?

  69. Don Farrell says:

    Even if Alonso somehow managed to win every race in 2012 he can’t win the Constructors Championship for Ferrari on his own. We just want to see a #2 driver who can consistently finish ‘in the points’ every race – to add points so Ferrari can have a fighting chance of winning the Constructors Championship or even runner-up.

    Watching Massa slugging it out with the HRT’s & Marussia is disgraceful – bring back Barricello an excellent #2 Ferrari driver 10 years ago- he’s free – ready to race!

  70. Andrew Kirk says:

    Maybe Heidfeld replacing Massa would work? Always a points machine, fast enough to keep Alonso on his toes, let down by Lotus last year and made the scapegoat so will be fired up to make amends.

  71. Shiparch says:

    I really don’t think Perez will replace Massa this year, and I could say that I’m 99.9% sure of this. Ferrari want a driver with experience, yes Perez has shown promise and he is part of the Ferrari Driver’s Academy – the only FDA member currently in F1 (apart from Bianchi who’s a test driver), that could only mean he is being trained to become a replacement for someone at Ferrari.

    I still believe Ferrari’s original plan was to have Kubica alongside Alonso but we all know what happened. There were rumors of Button and Rosberg, two candidates that would fit the bill but they went their own ways signing contract extensions, that leaves Perez, yet still too inexperienced in the eyes of Ferrari.

    I don’t think Ferrari want Sutil, he’s as useless as Massa and now has legal problems too. Alguersari is inexperienced as well and if RB got rid of him it’s because he wasn’t up to standard, Ferrari surely wouldn’t take a recycled driver. Fisichella no way, too long out of F1 already, and Barrichello well he’s an option, he would do anything to get back into an F1 seat, nonetheless with a front-running team; but, would he perform better than Massa in a car that’s as difficult to drive as the F2012, would Perez or anybody else? Massa has tested and contested two GP’s on this car already, replacing him now would be similar to 2009 with the other Ferrari constantly in last place.

    Ferrari know the F2012 is bad right now and that is the main focus, Massa comes later.

  72. Webbo says:

    If Ferrari were to drop Massa during this season, whom would they chose to replace him? There are not too many drivers on the market at the moment who would be worth a Ferrari seat. Of course for 2013 it looks very different, with Hamilton’s and Schumacher’s contracts expiring this year. Both Champions are free agents in 2013. I’m sure they will monitor Ferrari’s situation closely. That said, why would Hamilton leave? McLaren seems to have the faster car at least at the moment so a move to a team with a slower car doen’t make much sense, unless Hamilton looks for a new challenge, like Schumacher in 1996 for example. As for Schumacher, it looks as if Mercedes might quit sooner rather than later, they are unhappy with the fact that Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull agreed separate commercial deals instead of commiting to the team’s associatian so Schumacher and Rosberg could become free agents rather soon.

  73. Robert says:

    Simple Answer ..Come back Rubens all is forgiven… A safe pair of hands and available

  74. CanadaGP says:

    The Slim family will support a Checo move to Ferrari because it would be the proudest moment in Mexican Motorsport thus far to have a Mexican in the red car. He can still advertise Telmex on his overalls and as a Ferrari driver will get even more TV exposure. Sauber also has another Mexican driver even younger waiting in the wings so Slims companies get double branding in a team and a driver in a top team.
    The problem is timing. It is not a good time because the current Ferrari is such a dog. Better to wait until 2013 or if Ferrari somehow is able to develop the car to close to decent by the European races.
    As for Massa I think Ferrari has given him more than enough chances and.nobody will fault them for dropping him mid-season.

  75. Dizzy says:

    Is Massa really doing as bad a job as it seems, Im not convinced that he is.

    At Sepang he was only 3 tenths off Alonso in Q2. His pace in the early part of the race was also strong, Again within 2-3 tenths of Alonso & running 8th. He was also within that time gap to Alonso late in the race.

    The thing that dropped Massa back at Sepang & saw him finish so far down the order was that he burned up his 1st set of inter’s faster than others (As did Button) & Ferrari then kept him out for strategy reasons so he spent 10+ laps falling backwards on badly worn tyres.
    Then as Ted Kravitz said on Sky he had a very slow stop when they did pit him.

    After this stop on his 2nd set of inter’s & after they switched to slicks his pace was actually quite strong.

    Based on looking at lap charts & the timing data, Massa’s pace in the race at Sepang was actually a lot stronger (Once off the worn tyres) than his finishing spot suggest’s.

    Based on that I don’t think its fair to be calling for him to be dropped just yet, Certainly not based on supposed poor pace alone.

    2 other things to consider is that the car is clearly not that strong & that his team mate is Fernando Alonso who is capable of pushing a bad car beyond its limits (Something all the greats can do), This alone could be making Massa look like he’s doing worse than he actually is.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Would not say he is doing a bad job but not what would be expected especially in relation to his previous form pre incident 09. so on that basis its a bit like a team time warping back into a 3-4yr old car just cant realistically be done.

      Im afraid Massa’s time is now up and for all the criticism Ferrari get about team tactics etc etc over the years what other team would have given Massa as long to re find his form??? defo none so in that respect hats off to Ferrari but i feel they gave him 1 season too long! all such a shame i thought he was genuinely up at the top of the game prior to the incident.

      1. Dizzy says:

        “Would not say he is doing a bad job but not what would be expected especially in relation to his previous form pre incident 09″

        Fair point, However how much of his seeming to not be doing as well as pre-accident down to the fact he’s now team mates with Alonso who’s simply making Massa look worse than he is?

        If Kimi was still alongside Massa perhaps the 2 would still be as evenly matched as there were in 2007-2009 which would make Felipe look like he was doing just as well as he was Pre-Accident.

        Also look back at early 2010, While Fernando was still settling himself into Ferrari, Massa was actually much closer to him, Actually beating him a couple times early on that year.
        It wasn’t untill Fernando bedded himself into the team & got the team around him in Mid/Late-2010 that Massa really started to look like his pace dropped off.

        If Massa’s problems were down to his 2009 accident, He’d have been off the pace from the day he returned in 2010, However he came back looking just as strong as he was Pre-Accident.

      2. Kevin Green says:

        clear to see in my eyes looking at the complete picture ie other teams/drivers practice sessions qualifying sessions and race day ever since his return.

        Sorry but completely unarguable by any means if you compare his overall kike for like form pre and post incident.

        study it properly clear to see, like i said hats off to Ferrari (and im not a particular ferrari fan) Massa has certainly been one of my recent trs favourites to be honest though.

  76. Ryan Eckford says:

    Ferrari have created a car that has some serious fundamental flaws which stems from the front pull-rod suspension. Under normal circumstances, Ferrari’s car is the ninth fastest in race trim. In qualifying, it is around 1.5 seconds off the pace, give or take a tenth of a second.

    Of the other cars, the McLaren is the fastest car, and is a very consistent car, not too dissimilar to the Brawn car(at least in the first 7 races) in 2009. The only difference is that McLaren don’t have a big innovation like the double diffuser Brawn had and that McLaren have more development power than what Brawn had that year.

    Mercedes has a good car, especially in low downforce configuration. Schumacher has been very good so far, but has been quite unlucky with the gearbox failure in Australia, and with the early spin and chaos in Malaysia. In both races, he would have finished comfortably in the points. Rosberg has been quite disappointing so far this year, and is showing why he is NOT in the top tier of drivers in F1.

    Lotus also have a good car, especially in low and high downforce configurations, which suggests the car must be good in terms of braking and traction.

    Red Bull has an interesting car. It could be still good on a real aero circuit, but many of the things that helped the aero to make the car work on all circuits is gone. I am not sure if the car can win under normal circumstances.

    Under normal conditions, I say McLaren, Mercedes and Lotus can all win races. Red Bull possibly could win races, but not at this moment. However, I think McLaren have the most complete car out of the whole field, and will always be at the front of the field.

    1. Kevin Green says:

      Your forgetting who is keeping everything in check at Redbull! I fear we are going to be seeing that Redbull’s right back on the pace or there about’s come China 3 weeks is a long time in F1!

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