[Updated] Everyone who follows F1 knows that Ferrari have shown extraordinary level of support to Felipe Massa in the last two and a half years. The little Brazilian almost won the world title for them in 2008 and would have done if they hadn’t lost him a win in the Singapore GP by leaving the fuel hose attached at a pit stop.
After his accident in Hungary 2009 they again stood by him, helping him back into the car for 2010. But now, with such a tight field at the front in F1, the signs are that their patience is running out, highlighting the “drop off” in his performances.
In the 43 races since his ‘comeback’ in 2010 Massa has scored an average of six points per race and has been on the podium five times. There were no wins, but he did move over, on team orders, to let Alonso through in Germany in 2010, a race which he would otherwise probably have won.
In that same 43 race period Alonso has scored an average of 13.2 points per race. With seven wins.
On Sunday Massa came home 15th. Like Sebastian Vettel with whom he was fighting, he had to serve a drive through penalty for using DRS in a yellow flag zone, but Vettel (who also had to have a front wing change) finished 7th while Massa did not recover.
Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali called this “unlucky” but also commented, “We expect Felipe to react and fight back..we absolutely need his points to also fight for the constructors’ championship.” Ferrari lie fourth in the constructors’ points table at the moment having finished a distant third in 2010 and 2011.
On the Ferrari website today they look at it like this. “As for an analysis of the Scuderia’s performance and its two drivers, Fernando has always maintained a very high level (67 points and second place in 2010, 51 and fifth place last year) while Felipe’s drop off has made itself felt. The Brazilian had picked up 49 points two years ago and 24 the following year, while so far this season he has just 2. In Montmelo, Felipe was very unlucky, both in the race and in qualifying, but everyone, he more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear starting right away with the Monaco Grand Prix, his second home race, given that he lives just a few hundred metres from what, as from next Sunday, will be transformed into the paddock for the sixth round of the 2012 championship.”
Ferrari are in a difficult situation. If a ready made replacement for Massa was clear, they might already have made a switch. The fact that there isn’t one keeps him there.
To improve its chances, it will need an established driver but it will be hard to get an established driver to move mid-season. Test driver Jules Bianchi is far from ready for a move like that and even Sergio Perez is too inexperienced to cope. It could ruin his career to make a move too soon.
What is making the situation all the more painful is that Lotus are scoring a lot of points and Mercedes have the potential to outscore Ferrari too. They could end up fighting for the drivers’ title with Alonso but finish up fifth in the Constructors’
Time to act, or time to support and try to turn it around for Massa, before replacing him with Webber or Perez or Di Resta or whoever next season?
Read the Ferrari team statement HERE
Listen to Jaime Alguersuari’s analysis of Massa’s problems on the 5 Live Chequered Flag Podcast HERE