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

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has given Felipe Massa notice that he is fighting to save his seat with the team next year.

Montezemolo used an interview on a show in Italy called Politica nel Pallone to confirm that the Brazilian, who almost won the world title three years ago, is safe for next year despite an “unfortunate season” but that he must prove himself to stay with the team beyond next year.

“With Massa we have a contract for next year. He’s had an unfortunate season but we aren’t doubting a driver who three years ago fought for the world title. Let’s hope he closes out this season with some satisfaction in Brazil. Then next year he will fight for his reconfirmation in 2013.”

Massa has won in Brazil twice, including the emotional day in 2008 when he thought he had won the title, only for Lewis Hamilton to pick up the fifth place he needed on the last corner of the last lap to steal it from him. On such tales of triumph and despair are great sportsmen built. But since then it’s been a tale of decline for the Brazilian, who was going along quite well in 2009 until his accident in Hungary. And since then, particularly with the arrival of Fernando Alonso alongside him in 2010, Massa has looked like a shadow of his former self.

Last year Massa scored 57% of the points Alonso scored. This year the ratio is just 44%.

He has been very lucky that the Ferrari has enough of a performance margin ahead of Mercedes and the others that he can be as much as six or seven tenths slower per lap than Alonso and still not lose positions. Were he driving in the midfield, where the margins are tight, with that kind of gap to his team mate he’d be really under the spotlight.

Montezemolo gave the Ferrari team a five out of ten for the season, clearly showing his displeasure at the way the team has been unable to compete for the win at most venues, even if Alonso has had some mighty results against the odds.

“A mark out of ten for our season? I’d give a 5 which I’ll raise to 6 considering the effort and the victory at Silverstone exactly 60 years after Ferrari’s first win in F.1,” he said. “But the season started badly, we didn’t interpret the regulations well and we didn’t take risks in the technology of our project.”

Alonso currently has 245 points, only seven less than he ended last season with and has a chance to finish second. He is therefore likely to end the season on a higher total than 2010. But the chasm that exists between his score and Sebastian Vettel’s is the reality that he and Ferrari face going into next season.

He also reiterated his views about Ferrari wanting Formula 1 rebalanced away from aerodynamics if it is to commit to stay in long term,

“There is a disproportionate influence of aerodynamics, both in sport, as it counts for 90% of the performance, and as regards cost,” he said. “Ours is the only professional sport where tests and training are not carried out. You can’t just move from an high number of tests to zero tests, there is also a happy medium. And why then spend absurd sums of money on aerodynamics and not on tests? What opportunities can we give young drivers to break into the sport and how can they gain experience?”

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1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

1) When we question Alonso vs Massa, I think back to Renault in 2005 and 06. Fisichella who was a very respected driver had no answer to Alonso. In fact, it was very similar to Massa these last 2 years.

2) We don’t know all the facts about Mclaren 2007, but we know enough to say that Ron Dennis favoured Lewis generally that year, to the point where Alonso felt alienated. I believe Alonso would relish going up against him in a different team, to lay to bed once and for all that Lewis competed equally.

Button has proved capable of beating Lewis, and I’d imagine Alonso feels it would be a great fight.

7

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

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

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

8

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

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

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

14

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

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

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

21

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

22

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

23

I think that Massa is not the biggest problem in Ferrari.

If Ferrari is going to have a winning car, than they have the best driver in F1 today to win them the championship. Massa will be confident with the car too and will be bringing good points. They will likely win the WCC too.

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

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

24

I don’t think Massa would help Alonso willingly.

25

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

26

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

27

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

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

28

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

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

Alonso and Raikkonen would be the best driver lineup

29

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

31

Maybe Kubica will make a suitable replacement?

32

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

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

33

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

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

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

34

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

35

‘Massa made life easier for Webber with a spin and by being slow generally…Massa has been lucky that the gap between the Ferrari and the Mercedes is as big as it is because it means that despite being six tenths of a second slower than Alonso he still finishes in fifth or sixth place.’

This is an excerpt from James’ race strategy analysis – actually on Webber’s strategy – on Abu Dhabi less than two weeks ago. Hasn’t it been like this for some long time now?! For nearly two full seasons now Massa is only noticeable and/or becomes relevant (let’s keep Hamilton out of this:-)) when getting into the way of his team mate i.e. hindering his own teams’ chances to achieve its goals.

I find it hard to go around this… fact!

36

Wasn’t the same article posted last year?

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

37

Any team from second or below are copycats.

Look at McLaren 2010 before and after first race, again again in 2011.

Look at Team Lotus this year and compare it with last year’s Mercedes, etc.

38

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

39

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

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

Wheel caps were another example.

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