Massa recognises it’s make or break
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jan 2012   |  5:51 pm GMT  |  126 comments

Felipe Massa appeared at the Ferrari Wrooom media event in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy today, knowing that his back is against the wall and 2012 could be his final year with the team if he doesn’t raise his game significantly.

Two lacklustre campaigns have left the Brazilian vulnerable and both Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and team boss Stefano Domenicali have spelled out that he is fighting to save his job.

Interestingly, the Ferrari website presents a stark picture in its story on Massa’s appearance in Madonna and puts Massa’s position in these terms,
“Felipe Massa’s future depends on what happens now. At the end of 2012, the contract between the Brazilian and Scuderia Ferrari will come to an end, but the pressure that might build with this expiry date does not seem to have unsettled Felipe.”

Massa himself is realistic enough to know that he faces a decisive year. He’s less able to drive around problems in the car than team mate Fernando Alonso and suffered more from the Ferrari’s handling problems on the harder Pirelli tyres last year.

“If we have a good car then I know I can fight for the title, as I have already done in the past,” he said. “Since 2008, nothing has changed: after my accident, I am still the same.”

“I am well aware that in some ways, the first part of the season will be more important than the second,” he added. “When we reach the mid-point of the season, we will talk about my future and see what are the chances of continuing to work with Ferrari: The most important thing is the results: if they are good, making decisions about the future will be much easier and there would be no point in changing a situation that everyone was happy with.”

Photo: Ferrari


Many F1 insiders are surprised that Massa is still at Ferrari; a fit Robert Kubica might have been expected to be drafted in for 2012 after Massa’s disappointing 2011. But the Brazilian is a fighter, as he showed in his season long battle with Lewis Hamilton for the championship in 2008, which ended in heartbreak in Brazil.

The absence of a strong alternative candidate plays a part in keeping him there and it will be very interesting to monitor his progress this year and Ferrari’s positioning around alternatives. With the team having given indications that they’d like to get Sebastian Vettel as a long term leader post-Alonso, once Vettel’s contract expires with Red Bull in 2014, the team may be looking for the right person to bridge that gap.

However Alonso indicated today that he plans to keep racing for many years to come,
“I’ve still got many years to come,” he said today. “I’m 30 years old and there are guys racing at 42 or 43, so I guess every year I will improve a little bit.

“Maybe as you get older you lose some speed, but you gain experience so it compensates.”

Massa says that the new Ferrari car is a completely different design concept and finds reason for optimism in both the move to softer Pirelli tyres and the arrival of ultra experienced tyre engineer Hirohide Hamashima from Bridgestone.

Ferrari are certainly giving Massa every chance to come good, but his team mate Fernando Alonso is now in his prime, as he showed last year with some amazing results in an underperforming Ferrari car.

Massa has been in F1 for ten years, six of them with Ferrari. Will there be a seventh?


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1

Too many arguments made without giving proper understanding to the intangibles of motor racing. Millions spent on the cars yet we think the drivers can overcome weaknesses of faulty engineering. So much can and does happen for which there is no control of and a few drivers have been able to still impress.

If Massa wants to stay at Ferrari let me say one name, an example from which to learn from. Not the greatest F1 driver ever but without a doubt the most courageous and committed person to exceed all life challenges dealt his way. ALESSANDRO ZANARDI. No matter the challenge presented he exceeds all these drivers with complete determination and a drive few other F1 drivers could supply. Zanardi is now rank #1 in hand cycle after losing both legs in a crash. One very focused racer. A trait a host of drivers on the grid last year and this year desperately need to improve on. A. Zanardi exemplifies a true champion. Learn this Philipe and the sky is the limit.

2

Massa seems a bit like Button where they like the car set up a particular way and are less able to drive round problems like Alonso and Hamilton. If the new car can be tuned to his preferences he’ll be quick.

3

Massa is out if Rosberg is in…? definitely it seems he is still very fast….

4

Massa’s fate is in his own hands. Ferrari has been very loyal to Massa.

5

Good read as ever James any feelings on Webber joining Ferrari? Random question but he is only signed at Red Bull for 1 year, he gets on with Alonso and he would be happy to be fighting up front rather than battling mid field in a smaller team.

6

This seems like the perfect article to be accompanied by a pithy italicised editorial in your end of year book, James!

Let’s hope that it’s a positive ending for Massa, as I know that if he has a strong year, it will certainly make me one of the happiest F1 fans in the world!

7

I would like to see Massa staying. This tends to bring consistency within the team. That said, results are important. And Filipe knows for sure he has to put the sum off all experiences gathered during the years into a single statement about himself in 2012. This isn’t a tough call for him especially when remembering his drive against Schumacher in 2006 and against Raikkonen. Yes Alonso casts a rather longer shadow now, but Filipe should be able to diliver just as Alonso. For him, it’s more of a mental strength, heart and vision that is required to pull it all together. Die Scuderia.

8

I’m not entirely convinced that Alonso is “in his prime”. He doesn’t seem anywhere near as brilliant as he undoubtedly was in 2005/2006. He has flashes of that brilliance, some superb performances, but he doesn’t seem to be able to keep it up for an entire season like he could when he was a little younger.

Seb is currently at that sort of performance level. I don’t think Ferrari will be an attractive prospect in terms of being groomed as an Alonso replacement when potentially Seb could be the more successful driver at that point and won’t be inclined to follow Alonso’s lead.

9

I disagree. He didn’t have the car in 2011, but he is in his prime now age 30 with the experience he has combined with the speed

10

Going by your analogy James by the time Vettel is 30 he would be a driving God at the rate he’s going if he’s driving like this @ 24.

You put it as he didn’t have the car @ in 2011 but Alonso was brought in to help point them in the right direction with development and leadership skills.

11

Its not my analogy but going by what James said now saying Vettel would be destroyed by Alonso is just a joke I think you have been watching another formula for a while [mod] all that talk of him destroying Vettel is BS he needs speed to get anywhere near Vettel right now stop living in the past.

12

StallionGP:

Really, your analogy doesn’t make sense to me.

Actually, you are as good as your car is, and that’s what Vettel is at the moment. Alonso is the opposite, bad car but he manages to over-perform the car. Pushing the car to it’s limits and even beyond.

Put Alonso in the same car as Vettel right now, and he wil distroy Vettel completely. Not because Vettel is a bad driver, but just because Alonso can conbine experience & speed at this stage of his career.

13

Come on.. the ferrari of 2008 was mile ahead of the Mclaren! Massa didn’t outshine Hamilton that season. Massa have never achieved the maximum from any car he has driven. However, Ferarri are happy with him since he won’t take points away from their number one driver, where as the Mclaren drivers keep stealing points from each other.

14

Massa never looked like a champion. In 2008 also, if there was Alonso in a good car or interested hungrier Kimi, neither LH nor FM would have been the contenders. The fact that the championship was won in sub-100 points itself is a testimony to that fact.

I’m surprised by this statement that Alonso thinks driving at 42 years of age will give the benefit of experience. Usually a few years of experience is enough and the returns are minimal as years go by where as losing reflexes with age is much more rapid and hence Ferrari will not entertain a 40 years of age driver in their midst.

15

Massive Ferrari fan here, I cant help but think the Ferrari top management have had a detrimental affect on Massa. At the same time, Massa has not responded and raised his game. The issue I see with Massa, as another knowledgeable fellow on this thread has mentioned, is that Massa struggles to drive around a cars problems.

Whereas Alonso, like Hamilton, can drive around problems, Massa is more happy to blame a poor car than criticise himself which I think is very important for a F1 driver.

On a side note, I think since Hamilton´s pops stopped being his manager. There is no one really to tell him, “you had a %hit race, it was your fault, learn, adapt and move on”. Instead it is, “You can do no wrong, it is not your fault, keep at it” which I think has contributed to his less than stellar season last year.

16

He’s got two hopes and Bob’s out of town.

17

@ Justin Bieber (Lol)

What I meant by Alonso can’t stand humiliation is, it’s a known fact that Alonso is a very proud individual & with proud people, they don’t like it when they’re beaten and that’s why you hear Alonso complain whenever his teammates do not jump out the way.

Same reason why Alonso went running out of Mclaren in 2007 instead of stand up to the challenge.

As for teaching Alonso some driving lessons, I wasn’t referring to past seasons but for seasons to come & believe it or not, Vettel sure can teach Alonso something about holding it together during qualifying & running away at the front.

And no Justin, as long Alonso stays at the has been team Ferrari, he will never win another title, you may want to check up on Alain Prost’s career.

18

let’s put it this way:

Alonso has the team behind him and this is the reason why massa is so much behind, and massa should leave for his own sake

this is what a lot of people say

let’s say that exactly same thing happend at mclaren in 2007 only with the team backing up hamilton, alonso almost won and decided to do what most of you are saying for felipe…

leave because conditions are bad

Good job Alonso

19

I don’t think Massa has been quite the same since his accident. Perhaps he should plan for 2012 to be his retirement year and bow out as near to the top as he can make it rather than drop down the field into lesser cars until not even the back marker teams want him. He should learn from the mistake of his fellow countryman.

20

People seem to forget 2008 and part of 2009 when Massa was faster then higly rated Kimi in the same car…

So come on Felipe, new tires, Ferrari better in warming them up will certainly help.

21

If we take a look at the past, at Ferrari, the only driver there is more quicker than his mate when the team supports him better …

Just see:

– Schumacher vs Barrichello

– Massa in 2009 vs Kimi

– Kimi after the Massa accident in 2009 (he just became better than before, why?)

– Alonso vs Massa (2010, 2011). Just remember that Massa perfomed well at the start of 2010 but then faded, why ? Why a lot of failed pitstops and poor strategies for Massa only ?

From my point of view they won’t hire anyone better than Massa just because no one agree to be number2, although Button possibly could just fight Fernando without any words, who knows.

So, my prediction that ferrari will hire someone young and for Massa it’s better to change the team where he won’t have the support like he had before.

22

Long time Ferrari supporter and i actually hope he keeps his job. I think Massa is being underestimated and the quality well eventually come back.

I read most of the comments and people are saying its his accident his never been the same, i don’t think thats it. I honestly truly think 2008, brazil, last corner and last few seconds of knowing you almost had the title and thats what i think it is. I’m sure a professional within any sport or even work trying to be the best and almost accomplishing that goal, then gets taken away from you, it will definitely have an impact.

Personally i think he needs to win the title to keep his job and we know how hard that’s going to be. I think he should start concentrating on trying to get a chance with Red Bull and a person with his credentials should give him a chance.

23

I don’t think it’s 2008 that slowed him down… He was crushing Kimi in 2009 in that dog of a car before his accident.

In fact, I don’t think he’s slowed down at all… He just couldn’t get to grips with the handling characteristics of the Ferrari. Massa has always been slower than Alonso anyway, chuck in the car not suiting him and you get what’s happened these last two years!

I don’t really think he should be around much longer… There are a few drivers I think that about – There is just sooo much talent around these days with the way drivers are being picked up in Karts and groomed through to F1 – Only the very best should be in F1 these days and I don’t think Massa qualifies.

24

I disagree, in 2009 he was stronger than ever and put in some brilliant drives before his accident.

Without the accident he possibly would’ve won a race or two that season and would’ve been in a much stronger position against Alonso in 2010.

25

I think Massa needs to build a technical relationship with Schumi again so he can be his mentor once more.

Just like Hamilton needs his dad back.

These are two very fast guys who need to be direct. Otherwise Massa needs his dad to wear pink shirts also like John Button. 🙂

26

I like Massa, he seems like a decent guy and is certainly talented, but it’s getting a bit worrying when his form is now seemingly not even good enough to warrant the role of a Number 2 driver.

The unfortunate thing is that, even if he was performing at his 2008 levels, Ferrari wouldn’t let him beat Fernando anyway.

He really should get out of Ferrari and try to get a Number 1 role in a different Team as my fear is that it’s now getting late, his career will start to dwindle away, and he’ll be remembered as just another driver who nearly (but not quite) got into the top tier of F1.

27

I’m no Massa fan here, nor do I dislike him either, but I do feel sorry for him and wish he’ll raise his game and retain his Ferrari seat for the next few years.

28

I wouldn’t feel too sorry for him. F1 has been good to Massa and has provided a good living for him and his family. He appears to be a decent, honest man who will take his fate in good grace.

29

Can he? Yes. In F1 anything can happen and it usually does.

Who would have thought JB would have beaten Hamilton, Hamilton beating Alonso in 2007, Webber outpacing Vettel in much of 2010, or Massa beating Kimi in 2008.

Can he do it, absolutely. No one who stays in F1 for ten years is without the talent to win races and, with the right conditions, a championship.

Will he? Probably not, but he might get close enough to Fernando to keep his drive if RK doesn’t stop ice skating. Also, Brazil is experiencing an economic boom, I am sure they’d sell a few less Ferraris in 2013 without Massa.

I still maintain that Ferrari should have sidelined him after the crash and kept Kimi for 2010. It would have been cheaper and they would have scored more points.

30

Brazil is experiencing an economic boom, I am sure they’d sell a few less Ferraris in 2013 without Massa.

With any other car manufacturer I’d probably agree it would impact on sales. But I think it’s naive to imagine that Ferrari would have a down-turn in sales because they sacked a driver. Ferrari is a brand nowadays. not a car.

Anyway, their number 1 and 2 markets are USA and China…

31

If you want to be 100% correct you should say that hamilton AND mclaren beat alonso, that would make sense!!! otherwise it’s just nonsense

32

Fair enough, as long as you concede that Alonso AND Ferrari beat Massa in 2010, and that Alonso AND Mclaren beat Hamilton at Monaco in 2007.

My point really is that no one expected a rookie to be able to get close to a double world champion in his first season, in as much as no one expects Massa to do it now.

33

but don’t you think that ferrari gave an equal chance to alonso and massa at the begining of the 2010, alonso proved himself better and got the support of the team. hamilton did not prove himself better but got the support because he is british. don’t remember about monaco 2007 so i can’t say.

and so look at the difference beetween alonso and the team and hamilton and the team…

34

Hammilton did not beat Alonso in 2007…..

35

He did.

But my point was really that past results are no guarantee of future performance.

36

They didn’t finish equal 2nd in 2007, rather Hamilton was 2nd with Alonso 3rd.

Equally wrong are the Hamilton fans who claim their driver “thrashed” Alonso. Hamilton beat Alonso, but only on countback.

37

What about Perez? He had a pretty decent rookie year and there is a history of Sauber to Ferrari driver movement. I think if Perez has a good year he could be a candidate for that seat.

38

SPORT IS CRUEL the saying goes. But it’s been very kind to Massa.

No one can deny he has put in some speedy drives for Ferrari, but his own mentor, Rob Smedley, put it very bluntly:

“I wouldn’t keep telling him how to drive if I didn’t think he needed it !!”

39

If you think F1’s been kind to Massa, watch Hungary, Singapore and Brazil 2008 again, not to mention various other bad luck in other years!

Now that Webber’s luck’s turned around, Massa could well be the unluckiest driver on the grid.

40

Forza Felipe!

He can do it.

41

“(…)I give him 2-3 more seasons of taking driving lessons from the likes of Hammy & Vettel before he says adios to Formula 1.”

Are you sure you are not joking?

42

It has to be a joke if they look at Alonso that way.

43

No he’s not… Just another fan who thinks vettel is god!

44

Obviously he’s joking

45

Just watched the Hammond Moss DVD and listening to Prof Watkins he wouldn’t have allowed Moss near a car for two years after his accident. I know there are all manner of tests to assess a driver’s fitness nowadays but I keep wondering about Massa’s accident. I was in Melbourne for the GP in 2008 when Hamilton walked it and Massa took Coulthard and Vettel out in separate accidents at the first corner. I never would have dreamt at the time that Massa would go so close to beating Hamilton for the title that year.

46

@Tony G: Sid Watkins said it would take Massa 2 years to fully recover, so by now he should be fine. Also, Massa never hit Vettel in Melbourne 2008…

47

The only reason he got so close was because he was gifted a “win” in Spa when they wrongly diaqualified Hamilton. Lewis got 0 points and Massa got 10…

48

Hamilton was awarded the customary 6 points for finishing 3rd in the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix. He was not DQ’d, but assessed a time penalty.

49

Hamilton was third in that GP.

50
Spinodontosaurus

Hamilton got 6 points actually.

And what about the Singapore farce?

51

Don’t forget his engine failure 3 laps from the end of the Hungarian GP.

52

What about the Singapore GP? Ferrari released Massa with the fuel hose still attached to the car, whose fault is that? In fact, it can be argued that Aloonso and crashgate stole points from Lewis too.

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