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Massa out of sorts in critical season
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Massa out of sorts in critical season
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 May 2010   |  5:36 pm GMT  |  175 comments

Felipe Massa looked rather dejected all weekend.

He was asked after the race by Italian colleagues whether this was because of the rumours that Ferrari was thinking of replacing him with Robert Kubica,

Under pressure - Massa needs to raise his game (Darren Heath)

“I’m not happy because the whole winter test I was 110% happy with the car the way I drive. I started the first race and I was 120% happy with the car. We did a great job in the first race. The last four races have been harder tyres than Bahrain and I can’t use them like I want, I need to understand, I’m a little bit outside of what I have to be.

“It’s not a question of being slower than Alonso, it’s that I was completely out of my rhythm. Behind Button, the McLaren had better traction and we lacked grip in the final sector. Then I had a problem with my front wing which certainly didn’t help.”

Massa damaged his front wing in contact with Karun Chandhok’s car, but not sufficiently to require replacement. Massa’s point about his life getting tougher since the tyres went a step harder from Bahrain onwards is interesting. In Bahrain Bridgestone brought the super soft and the medium and since then it has been the soft and the hard. Massa said last night that he is finding it tricky to switch the hard tyres on, which is a question of downforce and set up. In Monaco we will have supersoft and medium again.

Ironically in Alonso’s hands, the Ferrari seemed to be stronger on the hard tyre, something team boss Stefano Domenicali acknowledged. He said that it was strange that his two drivers had very different feelings on the tyres.

“I’m not concerned because what we have to do is to make sure that the car is the one he is confident to drive,” said Domenicali. “This weekend for the first time this was not the case. He started to complain about the grip from Friday.

“We need to look a what needs to be done in terms of set up, preparation and downforce. If we give him a good car he’s very good and strong, I’m pretty sure about it.”

However I noticed a throwaway comment in Domenicali’s press briefing, which is worth filing away. Talking about the dominance of the Red Bull he said, “They did a good step, but in all honesty today we saw the performance of Mark Webber, so we need to keep that as a reference on our side.”

Looking at the context of the quote he goes on to say that Red Bull has had the pole at every race, but only lies third in the championship. So the Webber line sits there on its own without any real context.

Massa is clearly under some pressure at the moment and although he’s scored points in every race, he’s already 18 points behind Alonso who has also had one retirement with engine failure and by any analysis he has not been able to match his team mate this year.

Massa has shown his quality in 2008. The seat is still his if he can fill it, but should he not pull himself out of this slump and Ferrari decide to replace him, the most important thing is to get the right driver to partner Alonso, because it’s very clear that they have hired the Spaniard to win things for them. What they need alongside is an uncomplicated, unpolitical but very fast driver to push him.

Kubica is certainly one option, but I wonder whether Webber might be another. This quote along with a few other things I heard privately in the last few weeks make me wonder whether Ferrari is tracking Webber as a possible candidate for Alonso’s team mate. It’s not an obvious fit, in marketing terms Australia isn’t much use for Ferrari or FIAT, but Alonso and Webber go back a long way to their Renault days and there is a lot of respect there.

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When Ferrari will present the specification "B" of the car? And James wrote about diffuser of format A2 .

Stephen Kellett

Whoops, try again.

I still don't think A2 size is feasible. Here is the correct size.

0.420m x 0.594m

Thats a large hole, even if it isn't the size I originally mentioned.

Is that for real? A diffuser that size?


A3 was what I was told. It's basically a concept from Toyota aero guys, for their 2011 car. One has gone to Ferrari over winter


I dont really buy this hard tyre problem for Massa. He never had these problems once in the previous 3 years, yet the moment Alonso joins the tyres dont suit him?

In Monaco he will have super softs so no room for excuses he must match Alonso.



Do you read anything into all of the communication that Massa gets from Rob Smedley? It seems that Smedley "drives the car" and makes decisions and Massa only agrees to it which is not the case with Vettel, Schumacher etc.

I find it a bit odd that Smedley seems to have crossed the line between engineer and driver, as he over communicates.

Thanks for your great blog, miss your thoughts on Formula One broadcasts on TV.


They seem to have a symbyotic working relationship. Just because it seems to differ from the rest dosn't make it wrong. We don't get to hear all transmissions.

I think it was Jock Clear telling Nico how to take an apex of a particular corner differently to improve exit speed on Sunday!

I like Massa but he needs to sort this blip out. He's not even performing as a 'wingman' atm.


I'd say that they clearly have a very good understanding of each other, and a good working relationship, if Rob know how to get the best out of him and some of that is urging him to drive a certain way then it doesn't seem a bad thing to me...odd perhaps, but if it works; it works.


Webber to Ferrari is an interesting thought, wasn't he up for retirement only a few weeks ago? (according to someone...) I guess he has a good home at RBR though seems like a productive and stable pairing, but I think a certain Finn would be interested to hear about your thoughts..


remember the problem for Ferrari in 2009 was never the drivers they had. It really was more to do with

- poor design

-unimaginative interpretation of the new rules

-poor team management

-counter-productive [deliberate?] involvement of former drivers

replacing the Finn was only a priority in financial terms and Alonso may win them titles this year, but I doubt it...


yup if you take a step back and look at the trend of where they're going, how much money they get relative to the rest, how they wrote off last year to develop this year's car a la Brawn, yet is still slower than RBR .. and you might come to the conclusion that they are near the front only because of the massive $$$ they throw at it. It wouldn't surprise me if they really honor the resource restriction agreement when that comes into place, that they'll be slower than Lotus which they made fun of a little while ago. But then I don't really expect that cuz I think italian companies usually keeps two sets of books..


In 2009, after Massa wrecked, Ferrari quit developing the car, but it made Kimi their #1 driver again. He was on the podium for 4 races, one of them a win, or Ferrari would have layed a goose egg for the year. For that he was out the door for Santander money. Massa understands what is going on at Ferrari, except that last year he was in the position Alonso is in now. At least Ferrari is honoring their contract to the end with Massa & they did not Kimi.


wow... it would be great for Webber to be in Ferrari... i wonder however if Webber would want to switch from RedBull though as they have been constantly producing championship winning cars and have Newey by their side :/

Craig Chamberlain

Maybe the rumours about Kimi coming back into F1 with Red Bull are a consideration here?

In my opinion, Kimi would fit in better with the culture of Red Bull than grumpy old man Mark (not meant in a nasty way) and Mark would be a good choice to push Alonso whilst also getting on well with him (good friends) and providing useful car development expertise.


Grumpy old man Mark replaced by the plank of wood that was KIMI (as you say, not meant in a nasty way)????????

Nadeem Zreikat

Would be good being a Webber fan, But I think he fits in with Red Bull very well. As long as Newey and co can keep with their magic.

Zobra Wambleska

Well, Red Bull haven't really won any championships yet, but they have certainly been more competitive than Ferrari these past two years. I agree, Mark would be better served staying where he is.


I believe Ferrari were in all probability ready to retire Massa before he had his horrendous encounter with debris. But to have retired him immediately after the accident would have created enormous amounts of negative press in the countries which are very important to certain Ferrari sponsors. Firing Massa without giving him a chance to return would have appeared immensely disloyal,

which is an ugly characteristic whether in a friend or a business partner ( one doesn't want such friends or partners, does one ? ).

I don't see Webber going to Ferrari. I'd think it much more likely that Kubica or Vettel would be asked to join Ferrari, because they both have more years of driving in front of them than does Webber.

Having said that, I have the utmost respect for Webber, who had a broken leg not long ago and yesterday stood on the top step of the podium on that same leg. If there is a "class act" among F1 drivers, it is Mark Webber, who behaves as a gentleman should, which is behavior some other F1 drivers would do well to emulate ( no need to point any fingers toward any other drivers, you can fill in the blanks for yourself, I'm sure ). Because of this fact alone, if I were a sponsor with deep pockets, I'd have Webber on the very top of my list of drivers I'd want to sponsor, especially in an age

when far too many sports figures are misbehaving in embarrassing ways ( Tiger Woods, too many NBA players to name, etc. ).


Groundless, baseless comments. Almost no relation to reality whatsoever. Ferrari were in no way ready to retire Massa last year. The comment about Webber and Ferrari are equally empty.


Also on the German wishlist would be the wunderkid Vettel in a Mercedes when Schumi hangs up his helmet! Why would they let him go to Ferrari


Hang on, under what grounds would they fire him in 2009?

After Germany, he had 22 points and Kimi had 10, and he was 5th in the championship. He put in some very good drives; China, Spain, Silverstone, Germany etc.

I admit I am a Massa fan, but I can't see that this would have been considered at all by the team.


As long as Ferrari had Kimi running as 2nd driver, Alonso looked better. Ferrari did not have to make any changes in their line up in 2009. Both of their contracts were thru 2010. The contract with Santander money, and hence Alonso, was not until 2011.


I'm not Massa's biggest fan - driving wise - but I agree Ed, I don't see how\why Ferrari would get rid, considering Massa has always improved season on season.


The silly season comes early! Webber in a Ferrari would be an intriguing choice, but aside from when Schuey was at the team, I can't think of a more unattractive time for the second Ferrari seat. Whoever comes in is going to find themselves against probably the best pound-for-pound driver in the championship quietly moulding a team around him.


'Quietly moulding a team around him'

Really?! I'd say he is being pretty forceful about it, there is no attempt to disguise what he wants nor what he will do to get it.


Oh like Renault promising to make it Kubica's team, Mercedes ensuring Schmacher has the 'pointy' car he loves to keep the marketing $$$ flowing, Williams using Barrichello to develope both car and Hulkenburg...

Silly me, I thought Ferrari and Alonso only did these things 😉


Ferrari might be an option for Webber if he is inclined to show off his talent in something less than the best car.


McLaren would be another option in the less than best car category as well ya?


He's spent his entire career in 'less than the best car' though. He has nothing to prove in that respect, with an F1 past filled with gusty drives in midfield or barely-scraping-the-top-six cars.


Its an interesting thought definitely but if it happened I could only ever see it being a quick fix. Webber is 34 in August so you can't exactly expect him to be a long-term investment despite his undoubted ability as a driver.

The main way it will work is if Renault and Kubica commit to each other (which sounds like it might happen given James' next post) and Massa underperforms hideously. Then Webber may act as a stop-gap for Ferrari young driver Jules Bianchi if Bianchi has to take a 2nd year in GP2.

I felt a few rounds ago that these 3 races is where we'll really see where Felipe is at this season. He won Spain in 2007, sorted out his Monaco problems emphatically in 2008 and dominated Turkey for many-a-year. Spain didnt go to plan but maybe a return to further familiar successful territory will help him in this month.


Well could it be that no reporters takes time to really talk to the guy.

Think some Journalists could bring some light on him. Last race there was almost no onboard video feed from his car. It's like he is forced out.

I think Ferrari is focusing to much on Alonso and it will bring them less points


"I think Ferrari is focusing to much on Alonso and it will bring them less points" huh???

Peter Hermann

Funny, i think its the other way round. In my oppinion, focusing too much on the weaker driver will cost them at least the driver's championship. Massa got a new chassis for the last race (not Alonso) and its still not working- quite the contrary.


Is that the new test car, R&D?


James, I'm a great admirer of Mark Webber, and believe he is a great ambassador of Australia. Finally he's delivering all the promise he has shown. But surely Ferrari will go for Kubica? Also, I'd like to add that Poland is no bigger market for Ferrari than what Australia might be. Cheers, Paddy


In terms of market expansion, perhaps not Ferrari but what about Santander?


Good point! Santander is still loving their relationship with McLaren/Hamilton and the effect on UK profits...


you have to remember that robert lived and raced in italy since he was 13, he is extremely popular there, he had a contract with italia1 tv(mediaset group) to talk people through laps, staregies on every grand prix ,he speaks fluent italian.


I have had a soft sport for Massa ever since his reckless car bending Sauber days when he was dismissed as nothing serious. That said Webber in a Ferrari would be just rewards for a man like Webber. I'll be happy either way. With Kubicki also. I want to see someone push Alonso hard and see what happens.


Hamilton already did and we see what happened,

Alonso cried like a baby.


Brian, how's Hamilton doing now? 21 points behind Button.


Steve said he wanted to see someone push Alonso hard and see what happens. Hamilton did that in 07. One cried and left McLaren, and the other is STILL crying. Hamilton is 21 points behind, but with the current point system, one race can change that. Not a Ham fan myself, Vettel has me watching to see if he can make it to the checkers.


And who's been doing the whining and blaming HIS team the most since?


Fast Fred is good friends with both Kubica and Webber. Both are nice chaps and fast drivers, and would be a good fit.

Massa needs to go join Piquet Jr. in the straw hat business


Alonso has said that he would not want Kubica for a teammate. With Santander money backing him, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.


Jaime Alguersuari!!!

No, I was joking (too inexperienced)


After a year or two, though? I think there could be more to your joke... 😉


I do not think Massa can and will match Alonso over the season. They are not playing in the same arena.

I agree, Webber is not a bad idea for Ferrari... and this lets a door opened for Kimi's return...


Webber and Kubica are both friendly with Alonso, are they not. Does Bianchi have an outside chance? And I have heard Sutil and Alguarsuari's name being put about. And even Raikkonen, Schumacher and Vettel despite them having contracts elsewhere. Are any of these names more than pure speculation?


So now Alonso is running Ferrari ??????

I'm not sure where Alonso (Teflonso) fans have put there brain, But You might have to rethink that any driver could have such impact on a team.

Not even Schumacher had a say.


Ferrari usually hire experienced drivers, not rookies, so Bianchi is not likely. I think it's Massa's seat still to fill but Ferrari wouldn't be doing their job if they weren't looking at the future. In the meantime trying to give their driver what he needs to shine again


The rookie option is not so unlikely if they really decide to build the team around Alonso and simply have some decent, silent driver in the other car to 'push him but only just'. The boy could benefit from Alonso's set-up abilities, after all.

Plus it would give Ferrari a chance to find a new Vettel. After all, every now and then they keep appointing rookies to test F1 cars at Fiorano. I'd put my money on Bortolotti rather than Bianchi, though.


Very well said, James. They won't forget so quickly the three stellar previous seasons Massa has given the team.


Just like they didn't forget their last world champion... oh, wait, nevermind. 😉



Rob Smedley in my book looked and sounded just as dejected as Massa over the spanish gp weekend.

I'm sure everyone will agree if there is anyone that can get the best out of Massa its not Massa himself but Rob Smedley.

James didnt Mark webber make a reference to Fiat making 'slow' tractors? now thats worth mentioning!


Rob and Felipe make such a good driver and engineer team, it would be a shame for that to get broken up. They have the best radio chatter out there!

Stuart Fenton

Massa's troubles will have Bobby K rubbing his hands together with glee. I feel sorry for Massa, 08 was so nearly his


08 was his chance to be world champion, and the ferrari reliability ruined his year.


Massa himself ruined his chances in the first races where he "eliminated" himself


Massa eliminated himself adjusting to no traction-control.

Carlos E Del Valle

Both are right. He eliminated himself in Australia 2008 and in a pretty much ridiculous way in Malaysia 2008, BUT Ferrari also killed him in Hungary 2008 and in the green light / fuel rig incident at Singapore 2008.


Massa will raise his game to a new level. He did it after Malaysia 2008 and will do it in 2010.


Yeah just in time to prove he's a solid number two at Ferrari again but then again those with soft spots on their heads tend to be more sympathetic toward those suffering from the same ailment.


Except his fans on this board all said that after China and the pitlane pass. He was supposed to put Alonso in his place this weekend.


webber to ferrari in place of massa.. opens the door for kimi to return to f1 in 2011 at red bull n massa finds himself w.o a drive.. or goes to a lesser team.. basically the cycle that started with santander coming in at ferrari ends with massa losing out!


No, Massa not being as close to Massa as he should be is what is starting this cycle. If he can sort it he stays, if not he goes.


Personally I would hate to see Webber leave RB. It is very rare to have a team of like minded drivers that are devoted to the team, and can either one win. Maybe it's just an illusion, but the entire RB team seem to pull in one common direction without drama. I'm not at all sure that could be replicated at Ferrari. I understand that RB has a driver grooming outfit with two pretty good yet still learning drivers. I like them both but to see Webber leave to make room for them would not be good for the short term future of RB IMO.


Neither is at the level of Webber(yet)so I don't RB will be making such an inane decision.


jack strawb is right. I was predicting the end for Massa before he had his crash last year. It was bad PR for Ferrari to ditch him but he has not performed for a long while now. Formula 1 is not about past performance, its about what have you done for me lately? JimmiC hit it on the head, this is the Schumacher model all over again with Alonso the top of the ticket and any other driver a veteran who knows his place in the pecking order ala irvine, barrichello.


Massa has been driving as Ferrari's first driver for the past 2 years, now he back to being their second driver, and it is showing.


It´s very simple Ferrari must deliver this year, they focused all their attention on this year car, so they have to win the championship.If not, some heads will roll and Massa´s head will be one of them.

Kubica could be a good match for Alonso but i don´t think he takes de seat to be a chaperon to Alonso.


Good point! Kubica is not the sort of a guy that likes to play second fiddle to anyone.

He is friends with Alonso and I think they both would like to keep it that way, which could be a problem in the same team, especially a team like Ferrari where there always is no.1 and no.2.


Passing up other tems is one thing, pasing on a Ferrari seat that would take some B@££S.


Massa is definitely gonna raise his game, and trust me..Alonso would soon be the one complaining of lack of pace...I dont wonna hear anyone say..''yeh!! Alonso's car is bad then though''!!

Watch out for Massa. There's still hope..and he is still gonna be at Ferrari next year, especially because he is going to win the drivers championship!


49man, my friend, will you be back on earth if your prediction fails?

As we say in Spain, comparing Alonso with Massa is like comparing God with... (and here it comes something very politically incorrect).

And I think Massa is very good. But they play in different leagues.


I agree with you Thalasa to some extent..I see the Alonso favouritism bcos of the Spanish background..hmm!..Well, goodluck with that...Alonso is lucky Massa is a cool headed boy!...Hamilton still gave Alonso what he deserved in Mclaren..

Goodluck to Alonso and I really hope you end up opening your mouth wide in amazement like...''WOW!! 49man was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT..SPOT ON...fantastic''..

and yeh, I'll be back on earth!

Ja galas!


Give Massa 3 races and judge me after that. Practice one in Monaco starts in about 12 hours from could be sure that Massa would be all out to prove you wrong..

3 RACES Thalasa, by 3 RACES!..he'll be all sorted!

Cheers RIVAL!!


Ok, 49man, so only one thing: how soon is going to happen? How soon is Massa going to rise his game?

And I hope you are around by then, so I can give you a little remind. 🙂


Could it be that Domenicali was referring to the performance of the second driver in the team? I believe Vettel is perceived as being #1 driver (as Alonso) and as such Dom could be saying that #2 needs to be up there when #1 is not doing so well...


That was my first thought too when I saw the quote!


excelent remark, following this way of thinking, domenicali could have been suggesting that if vettel got to grips with the car better this weekend he could have been even faster than webbo, and that is even worse news for ferrari


What if webber becomes champion? Nobody believes in him? With a superior car, he could well do it. Like button last year.


He sure could! Nice to see him getting the respect he deserves, sad to see Massa still denied it, despite 11 wins to his credit.


Webber would be a perfect fit for Fernando and Ferrari. He his brilliant technically, and would make a great number 2 there. In saying that, i am a massive Webber fan, and would prefer him to stay at RBR where he can remain equal. That wonty happen at Ferrari. He should have been Alonso's team mate at renault, but chose Williams. I'm sure Fernando would welcome him too, they would make a great pairing. Also i am not a Ferrari fan, so to see my two favourite drivers in a the least i least admire would be hard for me to handle ona personal level.


I like Webber a lot but the guy has a tendency to make errors in crucial moments, look at his races this year: stupid crash into Hamilton, starting from the pole and loosing it at the first corner (Malaysia IIRC), the best in q1 and q2 only to lost in q3 due to an error (China??). (on a side note: Kubica, who was also mentioned in the article, makes errors occasionally too, but generally is considered to be a robot).


"Kubica, who was also mentioned in the article, makes errors occasionally too, but generally is considered to be a robot"

🙂 this is sooo funny!!!

John Whitling

The way I saw the crash into Hamilton was that Alonso was holding both of them up for 10 or more laps. Mark had committed that when Hamilton made his move (t'was inevitable that he would) Mark would, without hesitation, follow Hamilton through. And he did but Hamilton's move was late and Hamilton had to brake and retreat and Mark was left with nowhere to go. Simply a racing incident IMO.


Never really got the Massa Hype, an ok driver but not in the top 7 drivers.And he is rubbish in the wet. if he is out of FIAT then i think he will struggle to find a drive next season unless as reported his manager who own a GP2 team get the last spot for 2011 , and who is Massa manager father.......


If I'm not wrong it's Nicholas Todt son of Jean Todt.


Webber to Ferrari is an interesting theory James and I wouldn't worry too much about markets. Somehow I doubt Northern Ireland was important to Ferrari in marketing terms but that didn't stop them from hiring Eddie to partner Schumacher. A mentally tough, no BS driver like Webber could play a similar same role alongside Alonso. He would however, demand equal status however.


I think Webber would jump at the chance if offered. I remember reading a quote from him sometime in the last year saying the only team he'd leave Red Bull for would be Ferrari. He then also echoed Jack Brabham's sentiments that it's almost more fun to bet them then drive for them.

A year or 2 at Ferrari would be a great swansong to his career and would be a way to go out on top, which is something he's spoken a bit about lately. He is also one of the few drivers in F1 able to cope with the Alonso ego.

It all depends on whether Ferrari offer him the seat though.

John Whitling

How can you go out on top living in Alonso's shadow?


Fair point. I was more referring to the opportunity to drive for Ferrari. Not an opportunity that comes along every day.


Would be surprised if Ferrari were to get Webber personally but it's an interesting situation and good to have your insight James.

Kubica has been talked about a lot but he does seem very happy at Renault


Bigger pictures and long term thinking will mean changes are afoot.

I really like the Vettel/Webber combination and Webber has demonstrated he can drive a good car just as fast as his team mate.

But at some point I think Vettel is going to become impatient and want a team focussed entirely upon himself. If Red Bull want to keep him long term, they will have to give that to him.

For Red Bull it is a better investment and Vettel would seem to be such a rare talent with another 10+ years to go in the sport.

My hope for Webber is that he either gets a top team drive next year or retires. I don't think I could go another season of watching him trying to make a poor car look average.


You raise some good points. At first I thought it absurd that ferrari would want Webber. Surely they would be wanting someone like Vettel. Younger, but a promising and experienced race winner.

But with what you said, it makes a lot more sense for red bull to fight and keep Vettel, and a driver swap with ferrari (webber to ferrari, Massa to RBR), with the promise to Vettel he would be their #1 driver, and Massa #2.

And if Webber agrred (why wouldn't he), I'm sure he wouldn't mind driving for ferrari, and make a good competitive team mate for Alonso.

Even if ferrari make Alonso #1, Webber would be willing to fight with him and not get all sulky. I'm sure ferrari wouldn't mind someone who just gets on with it.

Even if Webber gets annoyed at team orders, he's just going to do the job because once he makes the move to ferrari there's not really anywhere else he would move to before retiring.

And if ferrari don't pull the number #1/number#2 driver BS (maybe why they are looking at RBR and a RBR driver because they've finally realised that equal driver placing do work), then they'll have two drivers that get along and maybe better results.

So I can see why RBR will offer up Webber for Massa, and see why ferrari are interested in Webber.

All that being said, there's no reason why ferrari wouldn't want Kubica either.

Either would be a good choice, but RBR might give Webber up due to wanting to keep Vettel. While it might be hard to get Kubica from renault.


It's not in Ferrari's DNA to have two equal drivers. Massa is a good fit as a No. 2 to Alonso until Bianchi or Algersuari or some young gun is considered experienced enough to fill the No. 2 seat.

Webber looks happy in RBR and this year his team is faster than Ferrari so why would he want to switch unless RBR pushes him out?

Kubica is getting a lot of attention as Renault No. 1 so why would he want to be No. 2 in Ferrari?

How about Nick Heidfeld? He'll never get that Mercedes seat.

Ferrari does seem to have the more unstable driver lineup at the moment conmpared to the other Top 3 teams.


good point. Ferrari are a disaster when they have to concentrate on 2 drivers with equal oppurtunity. Their greatest successes has been with a clear number 1 who has a ready and able 2. Alonso is clearly 1 based on a schumacher model. I cannot believe that people thought Massa would be competitive with Alonso in equal gear. Any instability is just derived from Massa's inability to come to terms with the car and his lack of pace therein.


Ferrari might want kubica, but Kubica is no idiot. Everybody knows that as long as Fred is at Ferrari everyone else will be a #2 driver in the likes of Barrichelo and Irvine were to MS.

Ferrari would do well to bring in a young driver and groom him for when Fred gets a little older.


ferrari are a purchasing team, they are not developers. They work best when they have a great No 1 that provides good data and feedback that they then enact for performance. I made the same point as you with regard No 2s so I agree. It has to be a savvy veteran that knows his place and is probably on the downside of his career. It provides a good 1-2 punch for team titles and THAT matters for ferrari as well.


If Webber can beat Vettel every now and then this season, and he is given a choice towards the end of the year, he should prefer to stay at RB. He has been there so long and always works the team angle, biulding support around him.

If Massa is elbowed from Ferrari, I see a return from Kimi as the more likely scenario.

Of course, if Webber keeps on winning, then maybe it will be Seb that goes shopping


So this is the potential driver pairing that Renault should have had in 2005 when Webber ignored Flavio's advice to drive at Williams.

It would be interesting to say the least.

Jake Pattison

Geez James, you have the BEST gossip. I mean, Webber to Ferrari - that would be awesome!

As for Massa, I said in an earlier post that he would be eaten up and spat out by Alonso and I was right. Move over Felipe someone hungrier than you will soon be in that seat.


It's not gossip, it's just thinking it through and asking the question, "Could this happen, I wonder?"

Jake Pattison

Fair enough. Whatever happens Massa won't be there next year.


I cannot see webber ceding to alonso in a ferrari when he can still win a championship if given the right machinery. He is australian so its not in his genetic make up to succumb to all things alonso. It would have to be weber No 1 or more of a fair fight and that will not work for ferrari.


Its rather odd that Ferrari who have had a recent history of hiring drivers who were clearly number two are all of a sudden throwing a hissy fit at Massa being just 18 points behind Alonso so early in the season. Massa kept Alonso behind him for two races in succession and in China both cars finished only because Massa decided to be the sensible of the two. The records might show that Alonso has won a race and Massa has not, but it was a rather fortuitous victory for Fernando which is not worth claiming too much credit for.

Ironically, Webber demonstrated this week that one victory is all you need to claw back the points deficit to your team mate!!

All in all this sudden - 'holding both drivers to Everest standards' - policy of Ferrari seems rather odd given that they had a driver for five years, when he only won three races compared to his team mates thirteen in a season when Ferrari spat on rest of the teams. Or for that matter that other driver who would have never won a race in his life let alone mount a championship challenge if his team mates did not move over for him!!


This isn't Ferrari throwing a hissy fit, as you put it - Massa has himself admitted to struggling despite being happy with his car in testing and in Bahrain.

Overall, Alonso has clearly had the better start to 2010. His win in Bahrain relied on Vettel's spark plug failure but he still had to pass Massa on the first lap to make it work. Alonso was the fastest Ferrari driver in Australia and finished just behind his team mate despite the first corner incident which put him to the back of the field. Massa ran just ahead of Alonso in Malaysia - but Alonso was having problems with his gearbox, whereas Massa's Ferrari was entirely healthy. Alonso was again faster in China and Spain, where Massa struggled.

By any objective measure (points, wins, qualifying times, fastest laps, overtakes) Alonso is having the better season so far.


What "hissy fit"?

I don't think Ferrari's recent history has been hiring number two drivers. Just look at Raikkonen and Alonso. Nor do they appear to be continuing the old history (e.g. Schumacher) of having one driver obligated to move over for the other, and you gave an example yourself. The Massa and Raikkonen pairing had certainly appeared to be drivers on an equal footing.


i agree thats what they have done recently. However I think they are trying to redo the schumacher model with alonso the no 1. Raikkonen?, I loved Kimi, but he just jumped in the car and drove fast. He did not have the ability to provide good data and anlysis for the engineers to take the performance to another level. This is where it differs for alonso. Look at the results already so far this year. If raikkonen did not have that rascal attitude and free will (which I love) to do whatever, I think we would have seen a 1 and 2 driver set up last year as well. Kimi just is not made that way though.


I believe that Massa was again their #1 driver last year and Kimi 2nd. After FM wrecked & Kimi was again the first driver he had 4 podiums in a row including a win.


In an article by Dieter Rencken and Matt Beer on Jan. 13, 2010 entitled Ferrari: Alonso Can Defeat Schumacher, Stefano Domenicali said that "In the case of Felipe and Kimi [Raikkonen], in one year one driver was ahead of the other, in the second year the opposite happened, and so there was a form of respect.” It would have been nice of Ferrari to turn that around for the last year of Kimi's contract. I believe that if Kimi had been the 1st again in 2008 Kimi could have won the WDC again. I do not think that he could have won in 2009. The car was a real turkey. It would have been honorable for Ferrari, to show 'form of respect' for Kimi for his last contract year, 2010, by returning him to being their 1st driver. 🙂


Either Kubica or Webber joining Ferrari will basically turn a new page for Ferrari into post Michael/Todt/Brawn era. I regard Massa as part of that old team. It is a good step for everybody. I wish Ferrari team will not be too shy about doing that.


Hi James, is F1 becoming more dependent on the tires then before?

Nick Heidfeld once said that Bridgestone tires could be 10 times better. It was a way to promoter artificial racing, a fairly strong statement from him.

Every year we see some driver suffers with tire issues. In 2008, it was a huge problem for Kimi and now Massa, Schumacher etc..

We just want to see great drivers perform at their best, F1 doesn't seem to have infrastructure to make that happen.

I watched a race with f1 drivers racing in go-karts which was much more exciting, loads of overtaking, wheel-to-wheel etc...

Why is it that f1 can't do the same? They have to introduce KERS, they have to force the drivers to use supersoft compounds etc.. so that one driver can overtake another when he is 'suffering' from something.

I am no expert but in a wet race we see more overtaking because there is very little aerodynamics influence.

Why can't we do something like that in dry races?




I hope you are not being sarcastic.Imagine a rain race, same one set of tyres for everyone and it doesn't wear. It will be like a faster version of go-kart race which is what F1 should be all about.

Schumacher learned that wet tyres only last for one lap in wet quali where as it didn't wear that badly previously.

He had to learn how to drive an f1 car because tyres are so so sensitive these days according to Sutil. That's BS for the fans man. We want to see the best ATTACKER win the race, not the best tyre manager.


personally, i found it better last year where the teams had to use the two sets of tyres. it made for more stops and therein, a chance for things to go wrong. I have found that this year, rubber is having a MAJOR effect on results as drivers push and hope that the tyre lasts. Its a BIG intangiable now, and punishes good drivers who need the certanty of good rubber beneath them. They can then do their jobs and push..hard


This maybe crazy but if Massa was dropped by Ferrari and Webber was to move to them then it may open the door for Raikonnen to come back to F1 with Red Bull. Renault could hire Massa to replace Petrov to create a strong driver combination with Kubica.


Petrov carries a lot of money with him, sponsors, so it isn't an easy decision to let him go.


If it were to happen, that would be pretty cool. Otherwise Heidfeld would make an awesome partner to Kubica as he's already proved.


that is a possible scenario, looking at the way renault is shrinking their deficit to the top teams. in q3 they were only 0.52 s off hamiltons lap ,04 s off alonsos and on the pace with merc, by mid season they may challenge for podiums on regular basis


WAAyy off topic -> I just saw this on CNN:

F1 teams vote to ban controversial f-duct systems from 2011

WTF? I thought the FIA decided rules. The inmates are now running the asylum? Yeah, that'll work - about as well as CART did!


It's a gentleman's agreement by all the teams that they won't run f-ducts in 2011, not a rule change. A similar agreement saw KERS not being run in 2010, even though the rules continue to permit its use.


Ahem, you've been away from F1 for a while, haven't you? The teams association, FOTA, has been pretty active.

Glad to see even CNN is reporting on F1.


They've probably taken more interest now that they sponsor Lotus


Thanks James. Alonso and Kubica are friends, and I can't see friends making good team mates in today's F1. Alonso and Webber, where there is mutual respect, sounds good, but how much time has Mark got left. Perhaps its better to get Massa back on track as he was a good team mate for Schumi. Sebastien would be the best option.

michael grievson

I like the idea. However webber is too inconsistant. Usually messing up his starts. Especially when he starts from the front row.

Massa is a fast driver but not a racer. He's great when he's starting from the front but that's it. It concerns me how after all the years he's been in F1 his engineer is telling him how and where to go quicker. Massa says he's fine with it but as a driver at the pinicle of motorsport I'd be a little embarrassed.


You didn't watch Hungary 2008, and many other races. He overtook two Maclarens at the start round the outside.


And indeed he has been outqualified by Alonso this year and overtaken him at the start twice.

He is fast and a good starter, but the sad, sad truth is that he can't get from the midfield to the front as easily as other drivers.

For example, Alonso worked his way from the back in Australia to 3rd place (I think?). I don't think Massa would have been able to do that.

And I believe it was in Malaysia (maybe China)...Hamilton and others passed a particular driver really easily and once it was Massa's turn it took him laps upon laps upon laps to pass him.

Massa will only do well if he gets pole or otherwise manages to get into first place by the first lap.

Keep in mind this is coming from a pretty big Massa fan.


I think Massa is just not having a very good season.I wander why F1 fans have short-term memory in general.

You can watch Australia 2007 and a few other races where Massa started from the back and finished 4th etc...

The thing is he CAN overtake and he have done it in the past, not just this season. I am not trying to find excuse but he just came back from life threatening injury and we expect him to be at his best straight away?

We don't know what is happening because he sits in the car wears a hamlet.


Oh dear, so early for the silly season. Hmmmmm....Kimi?


We can hold a happy thought. 🙂


I would just like to remind you that Massa is still on the comeback trail from a serious head injury. Please consider this before criticising Massa.


I think Ferrari should hire a young gun like Kobayashi, he has raw talent and plenty of speed.. Plus he will clearly be a "number 2" driver to chase Alonso and not upset the applecart about who is the top man. Plus Japan can be a huge market for Ferrari and potential sponsors..


All this Massa bashing seems rather premature and ridiculous to me. He has two podiums from 5 races so far, just as many as any other driver. Yes he had a bad Spanish GP and was unable to get around Button, as he proved he could earlier in the season in dramatic fashion. But getting around Button is one thing, getting around him when he's trying to get around MS is another thing entirely. I'm beginning to feel Alonso is as much of a bully as has been previously speculated. I have no doubt Webber or Kubica could handle him, as Massa can still do. Remember, Felipe has had Villenueve, Kimi and Schumacher as team mates before, he's used to this kind of pressure. He nearly died last season, comes back and immediately picks up two podiums, and just because Alonso is his team mate, people are ready to kick him to the curb. If the Scuderia is foolish enough to get rid of an 11 time GP winner for them, I hope they bring someone like Kimi back in who can give Alonso the proper thrashing he seems to warrant lest his ego get to big.


I absolutely agree with you. All these arguments are far too premature...I really don't know why Massa has been criticised like this and it's a pity. I know Massa would come out stronger and stronger in the next few races to come. Moreover don't forget that Massa never really had a good start to any season if I remember correctly.

Watch your back Alonso..Hamilton may be coming to pass you, Massa would be long gone!!


When he clicks...... everyone will see him again.


Adam, I agree 100% with you. It is even funny, because Massa has been a very solid performer for the last three or four seasons, grabbing 11 wins for Ferrari, almost reaching the championship in 2008, and suddenly, because Alonso is there, he is an useless driver... Sorry: Massa had had Schumacher as a teammate, he knows pressure and he delivered every time. To say otherwise is nonsense, IMO.

Of course that bully called Alonso is a very good, solid, fast driver, and of course he seems to have adapted better to the car, but please, let's stop with this repetition of the six tenths of a second story. Not again. The folks at Ferrari knows exactly what kind of pilot they have in Massa, and they know that we didn't see the best of him yet this year.

Kubica in Ferrari? Webber in Ferrari? Vettel in Ferrari? Nah, normally this kind of silly chitchat starts around july or august, and is the same year after year. Kubica in Ferrari? yeah, maybe yes, maybe not, who knows? Nobody knows.


Specifically what's the link between Alonso and Webber that you allude to in your final paragraph?

Webber never drove for Renault, and as far as I can see only ever drove in the same series (other than F1) as the Spaniard once, Formula 3000 in 2000. Webber finished 3rd for European Arrows, and Alonso 4th for Astromega.


Alonso and Webber were teammates at Renault as either first choice driver or reserve for a short period of time (can't remember the exact time).


Only connection I can see is that Alonso and Webber were managed by Flavio, and he was Renault boss.

There were rumours in late 2006 about MW going to Renault, but he signed for Red Bull 7th August. Alonso was announced going to McLaren in '07 a year previously - December 2005.

Only other loose connection type thing that see is Webber took Alonso's seat at Minardi in 2002 when the Spaniard became test driver at Renault.


What James said 🙂 Thanks 🙂


also Webber had the option of going to Renault after his Jaguar stint, but opted to go to Williams (Flavio told him going to Renault was a better choice, but Webber went for Williams instead).


That's great thanks


Hi James,

Do you know if Mercedes will use their shorter wheelbase car for Monaco?


They are using the shorter version mate



You surprise us evey now and then. FA with MW is a match I never thought in a million years.

The fact is Ferrari have made better progress in winning titles with a clear N1 and N2. Kimi title was an accident by McLaren. In this respect, FA being N1 at Renault did make happen twice. It is a no brainer for me and it should not be for Ferrari sooner or later. MW fits the bill.


Forget Robert, Webber et al. Ferrari seems to have the money. Maybe their new line up will include Adrian Newy?


Such a shame for Massa. He really needed to step up to the plate this season and so far it hasn't happened.

With the right car and setup combination Massa is as good as anyone in my opinion (2008 proved that). Unfortunately he has a teammate who is probably the most adaptable driver on the grid. Alonso is the master at getting the most out of an imperfect car, therefore Massa's results are being thrown into the spotlight even more.

This season Massa seems to have fallen off the edge of a cliff in terms of performance. The Ferrari isn't amazingly good but I didn’t expect him to fall away so badly (he should easily be ahead of the Mercedes drivers for example). I have a feeling confidence (or lack of) is playing quite a large role here because last season Massa was doing remarkably well in the evil handling 09 car before his accident...(much better than Kimi).

If the Ferrari improves and starts suiting Massa more I believe we could still see him snapping at Alonso's heels. However with Kubica/Webber etc... waiting in the wings, time is running out for the plucky Brazilian.


I agree with the confidence thing.

He almost died last year...probably a little scary to keep driving. I know it's "in their blood" and they all deny it, but let's not forget that he's human.

And besides, he has a kid now. Probably taking it safe which is unfortunate for us Massa fans, but pretty understandable from his point of view haha.


James, I know from the accent and the famous "Felipe baby, stay cool" quote that Rob Smedley is on the radio with Felipe.

Who is the voice we hear on Alonso's radio with a strong Latin accent? is it Stefano Domenicalli?


isn't it Andrea Stella - his race engineer?


Yes , It´s Andrea Stella his race engineer.

Very funny comunication in Australia:

"A.Stella: Hamilton 3.5"

"F.Alonso: I don´t won´t to know"


James - surely it is a surprise to no one that Alonso turns on the harder tyre better - he has a characteristics warmup method which when weaving has a "tight" "end" to the weave. You watch him steer and at the apex of the weave he flicks his wrists - almost as if to flick out the back and and then catch it again.

Your article seems to suggest that Massa might get back up to form when on the softer tyres in Monaco.

Personally I think the desire to race will have died off. His motivation to get back in the car and prove himself as a driver has been done - now what? he has a couple young kids who he adores, more money than he needs, the only thing not accomplished is a World Championship which Ferrari will see coming from Alonso not Ferrari....

I dont see Massa staying at Ferrari for long, I reckon he needs to build a team - and there are 3 or 4 at the back of the grid that would welcome him with open arms, afterall he did make his name at Sauber.....


nice piece james.

Seems a lot of posters are ready to dump on Massa but it's still very early in the season and I wouldn't write Massa off just yet. On his day he is hard to beat. I actually think that Massa has made a solid return to F1. I mentioned in an earlier post that it is conceivable that if Massa can string a couple of strong performances together and Alonso falters then Alonso will have to ride shotgun for Massa.

Historically Ferrari have a shocking record regarding the treatment of its drivers. Just ask Lauda, Surtees and Prost. I hope Massa doesn't get the same treatment.

Seems to me that Massa is a better ambassador for Ferrari and F1 than Alonso.

I'd like to see Weber stay at RB. Australian drivers have a long history of beating Ferrari - not joining them1


"I mentioned in an earlier post that it is conceivable that if Massa can string a couple of strong performances together and Alonso falters then Alonso will have to ride shotgun for Massa."

That's the most unrealistic comment I've seen on this blog in a long time !

Massa should simply retire and allow himself a graceful exit, rather than live with the stigma of being forced out,

which will happen if he waits too long.


Two observations:

1. We can distinguish drivers between drivers who have problem with warming up harder tyres and drivers who can easily do that. In opinion latter are better one. Such situation took place in 2008 with Heidfeld in BMW-Sauber who had big problems with tyres. And nobody say Massa is better than Alonso, is he?

2. As far as Massa-Webber swap I would be happy to see Kubica in Red-Bull than in Ferrari as RB have Adrian Newey - a real artist!


I too think Ferrari were going to axe Massa until his accident. There were two things that lead me to that

1. Kimi was a champion, and although beaten in 2008, would have provided a push for Alonso. Plus he was contracted and was the more expensive to drop

2. BMW pulled out. Kubica had no drive, Ferrari already had Alonso, and were known to be admirers of Robert. So why not drop both drivers if it came to it, and bring in two of the fastest guys in the field?

Massa is, in my eyes, an average driver. Lest we forget that in 2008, Lewis had some problems too, in Spa, in Hungry, etc. But Massa usually pushed too hard and caused himself problems. He relies heavily on Rob Smedley, it was incredible hearing him tell a driver how to get more speed out of the corners.

He's had his chance, I don't believe the tyres are the problem if every other driver is using the same ones. He says he was fine in Winter Testing - surely they tested all compounds?


Massa had a new chassis along with all the new updates to his car so it is not surprising he had some problems in getting the set-up right.

Ferrari needs both drivers to be competitive. Alonso said he and Massa are complementary in their driving strengths. Ideally, they can learn from and push each other. In the Corriere della Sera interview, Alonso was asked which driver pairing could give the Ferrari duo the most trouble. He answered Hamilton and Button. It appears that Ferrari, like McLaren this year, are very aware of the benefits of having two competitive drivers for the development of the car.

I hope Massa does find his rhythm. Like Webber he is not the usual one in the spotlight for his team, but when he is "on", he is very, very good. (I look forward to Turkey, one of "his" tracks.)

Webber is SO Red Bull, it is hard to think of him on another team. He is just getting better and looks thrilled to beat his team-mate along with everyone else in such a great car. Such fun.


"What they need alongside is an uncomplicated, unpolitical but very fast driver to push him..."

Ferrari should have kept Kimi then.


Alonso, with Santander money, wanted Massa not Kimi for a teammate. He is afraid of Kimi…like Schumi was and Lewis and his Dad were.


Completely agree. I would love to see Kimi back. He is my favourite driver for exactly the qualities mentioned in this quote.


agreed. I said last year that it was going to be kimi staying and massa going. Massa's crash changed everything and we are still seeing the knock on effects of that. Could you imagine the fall out had massa been dumped by ferrari post accident!!


I think the one thing missing from Schumi's resume was a competitive team-mate (we now have Rosberg).

Personally, as an Alonso fan, I want the best driver available in F1 in the 2nd cockpit in Ferrari. The real quality of competitiveness comes out only under such a scenario. Hamilton has Button, Vettel has Webber, Kimi had Massa.

Massa in my opinion is a really quick and good driver. I don't the difference of several tenths in down to driver ability. Alonso is not 6 or 7 tenths quicker than Massa. No way. Over a lap, they are probably at par. Over a race distance, may be Alonso is ahead because of his adaptability, and his relentless attitude. But there is not much that separates the drivers.

Massa and Alonso are a good combination. They know each other, are experienced in F1 and have tasted success of fighting for championships.

It is too early in such a long season to compare team-mates. As I posted earlier on this blog, let us get past 10 gps. We will have performances from a variety of tracks and then can do our arm-chair analysis.

James, just one question: Has Alonso fulfilled the expectations that the Ferrari camp had from him? Given your connections, I think a post from you on the most significant driver-team combination is justified.


I agree with you Amritraj...Massa and Alonso, good combination, Massa is a good boy driver, Alonso, Bad guy!!...Massa would soon make Alonso fans blame Alonso's car when the time'll see...they said it with Kimi aswell, but Kimi ended up a pussy while Massa drove the car...rememember in 2008...some even said Massa was too Massa is just a pussy right?

Lets see how it goes!!

Alonso is good but totally overrated..Vettel and Hamilton are the real bad guys!!

Massa is very good too, infact, if not for Timo flipping Glock, who knows what really happened? Hamilton wouldn't have been a champion, it would have been Pussy boy Massa!!If the points were calculated then like now, it would have been Massa..if Alonso's Renault team didn't cheat, Massa wouldn't have had the fuel problem in Singapore and would probably have won the race....

Season is too young my people..lets see how Monaco goes!! the way, Massa leaves in MONACO.


Okay, if you say so...VETTEL AND HAMILTON are the guys to watch out for though!...

I'll forget the past, ''my bad''...lets see how Monaco goes!


I think you have misinterpreted what I have written. I think Alonso is the real guy, above Hamilton and Vettel.

My agrument is not to show how good Alonso is, but actually how good Massa is. The times don't reflect the reality at the moment. Massa is not that slow, as the times show, in comparison to Alonso.

And let's keep Singapore and Brazil '08 out of the pciture. Life is not made of ifs and buts. Ferrari screwing-up their pitstop had nothing to do with the Piquet's accident. Piquet's accident caused the SC to come out, that's it. There were several other teams that did their stops during that SC period, but it was only Ferrari who sent their car away with the rig still attached.

Also, to blame Glock in Brazil '08 is quite inane. He tried to do the best he could for his result. Hamilton won the championship that year and he deserved it.


Bingo. Alonso as clear number one needs his team mate to spark off. Someone he respects and to some extent fears? Alonso's hussle move on massa into Chinas pits shows he has no respect or regard for massa. Webber would be a great call as a team mate for the reason that he is sand paper and massa is silk lingerie.


I'm a fan of Webber - he's no nonsense, cops a mistake fair and square, he's quick and he's ready to have a go.

His one fault, IMO, is that his overtaking motto is "brake however deep you like, I'm going deeper". Works on a novice, but when your opponent is on the limit, you end up in the weeds..

I think he'd make a great match for Alonso. Chances are that he'd be within a tenth or two, and there'd be none of this princess shit that goes on sometimes...


If and only if Massa gets booted out of Ferrari, where do you see him heading James?


I cant see Ferrari wanting to rock the boat by putting Robert Kubica in the car.

They would be friends for about 15 more minutes if he went and nailed Fernando in the first couple of races (IMHO).

I think Mark Webber is finally showing his potential, and hes a likeable guy who on his day is just as good as anyone else.

I think dont think Redbull would be looking to change, unless they pull off something to lure Lewis from McLaren (I still think he'll stay, regardless of this year, but you just never know)


All things considered I feel Massa has done reasonably well since his return to F1. When Massa is "on it" he can beat anyone in the field. I think he could be suffering from Alonso's shock tactics but I think Massa can recover. If he can bank a couple of good results then he will be a contender for the title. I wish him well.

Historically Ferrari have a pretty poor reputation regarding its treatment of drivers. Just ask Lauda, Prost and Surtees. Hope Fernando doesn't shafted.




Felipe Massa never was a complete driver. He got offered a position with Ferrari because no one wanted to come second in the team to Schumacher. When he was teamed with Schumacher he depended on Schuey for advice on how to get more out of the car, even when Schuey left the team he was constantly calling him on the phone before races. Now Massa has Rob Smedley to babysit him. Ferrari are a team that looks for a complete '#1' driver, so they offered Kimi Raikkonen a massive contract. As far as I am concerned Massa is very very lucky to be where he is at the momment. After Kimi won the championship in 2007, you could tell he really wasn't into it anymore, his been in the sport of ages now.

When Kimi was Massa's team mate, Massa had it good because Kimi never spoke much and wasn't into politics. Now you got the biggest politician in f1 with ferrari, apparently Alonso has all the big discussion making guys on his side. Massa just isn't f1 quality, so thats why he got brushed off as second driver this season. He lack the ability to mould the team around him like Schumacher and Alonso can. Oh well thats his loss!

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