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F1 Opinion Newsletter 59

Replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari

As the teams headed away from Budapest to begin the five-week break before the next race, at Spa, the standings in the Constructors’ Championship looked liked this: Red Bull 246, McLaren 193, Lotus 192, Ferrari 189. Among the drivers, Fernando Alonso (164) headed Mark Webber (124), Sebastian Vettel (122) and Lewis Hamilton (117).

The glaring anomaly, of course, is that the driver comfortably leading the World Championship works for the team lying only fourth in the constructors’ table. In one way, you could say that Ferrari’s place is the correct one, the F2012 being currently only the fourth best car in competition; in another, you could point to the virtuosity of Alonso, who has scored 164 points in the fourth best car; in another yet, the inescapable fact is that Felipe Massa has contributed but 25 points, and sits 14th in the drivers’ standings.

nigel newsletter opinion  Replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari

Ferrari’s option on Massa, to continue with the team for an eighth season, expired on July 31, and the team declined to take it up. Of late Felipe has shown better form, and it had been thought that maybe – maybe – he might be kept on board, after all. Ferrari’s decision not promptly to take up the option on his services does not definitively mean that he is out for 2013, but his retention seems, at best, extremely unlikely.

Upon the announcement of his re-signing with Red Bull, after all, Mark Webber admitted that he had seriously considered an offer from Ferrari before deciding to stay put. And in recent weeks several other names have been put forward as potential team-mate to Alonso next year.

nigel newsletter opinion  Replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari

In the past Ferrari has held talks with Jenson Button (or his management), and at Hockenheim the word in the Italian press was that Jenson was again at the top of the team’s wish list. It has often been said that a contract means nothing in F1, being no more than something available for sale at the right price, but in 2011 Button signed a new multi-year deal with McLaren, and it seems more than unlikely that he will move anywhere in the foreseeable future.

nigel newsletter opinion  Replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari

Next, Sergio Perez. Like the now forgotten Nelson Piquet Jr before him, the heavily-bankrolled Perez has long given the impression that his future is all mapped out for him, that ‘ere long he will slide into a Ferrari seat. Perez has indeed driven some excellent races this year, and it’s possible that some in Maranello think as highly of him as he apparently does of himself, but still his form has been erratic, and in June Luca di Montezemolo suggested that, while he rated Perez, he would prefer to have a more experienced driver alongside Alonso. Still a possibility, though.

Then there are the two Finns in the equation. At the end of 2009 Ferrari terminated Kimi Räikkönen’s contract a year ahead of time, so as to be able to bring Alonso into the team as soon as possible. It was not a particularly amicable parting, but in Hungary Räikkönen said that the past was the past, that nothing was impossible – as, say, a return to McLaren would have been, had Ron Dennis still been running the team.

To me, this is the biggest surprise of all, frankly. Since returning from two years’ rallying to F1 this season, Kimi has driven superbly for Lotus (although some in the paddock suspect that last ‘edge’ has gone), but there’s no doubt that he disappointed Ferrari, in terms of his commitment to the team, and in terms of his driving in 2008/’09, and that surely cannot have been forgotten. Räikkönen may indeed be back on form these days, and I’ve been wrong before, but still it would surprise me to see him in red again.

nigel newsletter opinion  Replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari

Last, Heikki Kovalainen. True, he disappointed McLaren in his two years – ‘08/’09 – with the team, and he well knows he didn’t make the most of a great opportunity, finishing seventh and 12th in the World Championships. That said, Kovalainen’s fundamental talent has never been in doubt, and he has quietly impressed a lot of people during his time with the Caterham (nee Lotus) team – it cannot be easy, after all, to go from McLaren to a backmarker team, and keep your motivation and sense of optimism alive, but that is what Heikki has managed to do.

In many ways, Kovalainen might be a very sensible choice for Ferrari; like Massa, he is an amenable fellow who doesn’t make waves – and assuredly he would score many more points than poor Felipe has done these two and a half seasons past. The importance of the Constructors’ Championship to di Montezemolo, let us remember, can hardly be over-stressed.

Heikki might, too, be prepared to accept a one-year deal, such as Webber has long had at Red Bull. In Italy the rumours have long persisted, after all, that for 2014 Ferrari’s sights are on Sebastian Vettel…

 

Add your comments

59 comments on Replacing Felipe Massa at Ferrari

  1. John Saviano, 2 August 2012 15:21

    At the beginning of the season, I thought that Alonso & Button would make the ideal F1 team. I think I still think that, but lately JB’s been disappointing. However, Heikki would certainly be a good choice. I’m sure SV would be fine at Ferrari, but I doubt alongside FA.

  2. Hedley Thomas, 2 August 2012 15:43

    It is very sad to witness Massa’s plight. There have been occasions this year when he has been close to Alonso’s pace, but suffered ill fortune in the race. There have been other days when he has been nowhere near.

    Like many I was enthralled by Hamilton’s entry in to F1, but when he was closing in on the 2008 title, part of me was hoping that Massa would win the World Championship that year.

    I felt that Hamilton was a future Schumacher and would dominate F1 for the next decade but this was likely to be Massa’s only opportunity. After all, he was Ferrari’s No.2 then, and reigning champ Raikonnen was having an off season giving Massa his opportunity to shine – and shine he did especially at Barcelona and Istanbul. He was running away with the Hungarian GP too – but for a blown engine in the late stages of that race, he would surely have been 2008 Champ.

    It was indeed to be his only chance at the title. A poor car in 2009 and the arrival of the”faster than you” Fernando ensured that.

    The stark reality is that he has only been on the podium 5 times since the freak accident at the Hungaroring in 2009, so it is sadly time for him to go.

    I hope for an upturn in form in the next few races, but even if that happens its probably too late now.

    His replacement? Perez probably.

  3. MOTORSPORTRANTS, 2 August 2012 15:43

    WHY NOT TRULLI? FOR ONLY ONE SEASON

  4. Mark Keatley-Palmer, 2 August 2012 15:47

    As a life-long Ferrari fan I and huge supporter of Massa (like many I was delighted when he became an F1 Champion, all be it for only 40 seconds! I’ve never fully understood how it slipped from his grasp) but I fear that since the bump on the head, he has lost some of his mojo.

    I would love to see Heikki in the red seat, he is wasted where he is.

    I can’t help wondering how well Robert Kubica would fit in – if he ever returns!

    The thought of the over-rated (& over-paid) “ice cream eater” returning would be too unbearable, as would Lewis and most of all that single finger waving German!

    Best of all I think would be Jenson, but as you confirm, he is very clearly out of the picture.

    Interesting times in Italy

  5. Andrew Wilkins, 2 August 2012 15:47

    Dear Nigel,

    It grieves me to see Felipe in this awful position; how he maintains his motivation in the face of all the criticism I cannot imagine. Yet as a fan I have to admit that for some reason Felipe hasn’t been his old self as a driver since the awful accident with the Brawn spring. Yet who can forget the Brazilian’s so sporting reaction in Brazil when at the last wheel turn virtually he was deprived of the World Drivers’ Championship by Lewis Hamilton?

    In fact Felipe drove MUCH better than Lewis that year and in my opinion deserved the Championship over Hamilton. Felipe made fewer mistakes and was a true World Champion in the cockpit. Hamilton’s efforts were not so good.

    Anyhow it looks as though the Ferrari driver’s top-line career might be over. They won’t listen to me however I believe that Heikki Kovalainen is the best candidate. Look how Romain Grosjean is going on his “second coming”.

    Best Regards,
    Andrew Wilkins

  6. Michael Spitale, 2 August 2012 15:50

    Heikki is perfect for them. He would bring lots of WCC points but would never get in Alonso’s way which is what they want after all. Kimi is too fast overall and on the days where he would be “on” I don’t think Alonso would approve, and I most certainly don’t see him moving over for Alonso. Perez would be good too. No matter how much Webber pretends he was thinking about Ferrari he knows he would be #2 for sure there, and it would not be the #2 he pretends to have at Red Bull to keep himself sharp it would be a very real #2 and moving over would not suit him well.

  7. Arturo Alonso, 2 August 2012 15:52

    I think that Alonso needs a low-profile teammate, as Michael Schumacher at 2000-2005.
    What about Jean Eric Vergne?
    And What about Michael Schumacher again at Ferrari!!!??

  8. joseph joncas, 2 August 2012 15:55

    thank you for your profound analyses sir. after ‘Paco’ set the fastest lap in Monaco this season and is now over the rookie shakes in my opinion…when one seriously considers that his ties with Carlos Slim and his support of two individuals of the FIA board plus the fact that he is a latino would make him more than likely to be offerred the seat in my opinion. Ciao!

  9. Jean Doublet, 2 August 2012 16:12

    Why not Di Resta ? (The revelation of the season if I may). Kobayashi has also the swashbuckling style that Ferrari is (was ?) known to like (Villeneuve, Berger, Alesi, Mansell, Irvine to name a few…)

  10. ivan, 2 August 2012 16:18

    Just check out Heikki’s race performance losing against Petrov and his chances are over. Despite his terrible winter, Petrov still manages to finish in front of Heikki in most of the races.
    Qualy is one thing and it used to be super important, but not any more and the drivers themselves are very much aware of it.
    Di Resta, Hulkenberg and Grosjean are the other choices, but they need someone willing to be #2 driver.

  11. N. Weingart, 2 August 2012 16:20

    Jaime Alguersuari would make an ideal teammate to Alonso. Ferrari would have a good journeyman who would be more than thrilled to learn from Fernando while he supports him. I rate he higher than Kovalainen and Perez would be trying to dominate Alonso from the start, with predictable results!

  12. Bill, 2 August 2012 16:25

    I feel for Felipe and given that he was the guy who sustained the team when Kimi really couldn’t be bothered, its a sad end to his Ferrari career. Unfortunately for him, Alonso is not only one of the greats, but also is fundamentally and temperamentally far more suited to the task of team leadership than Kimi ever was (how interesting that he now seems to be doing it now with Lotus…), so Felipe could only really look ordinary in Fernando’s company. ability

    Of the alternatives, Kimi is just too good, as it is Button (who is fixed up at McLaren anyway), so it does look likes Heikki’s gig.. I’d like to see him in a Ferrari and he deserves the seat, I’m just not sure Massa deserves to loose his. But thats F1 maths for you – 3 into 2 just won’t go.

  13. Reynard, 2 August 2012 16:34

    Left field time–how about Valentino Rossi? His Ducati season is getting worse- it looked like he threw the bike away at Laguna Seca!- and he hasn’t announced his plans for 2013…
    More seriously Jenson would make a great no. 2, but whatever happend to Jules Bianchi–is he not in the frame any more?

  14. B.Modos, 2 August 2012 16:36

    Bring back The Monster for ’13! Or Marco Andretti. Live a little.

  15. Paul, 2 August 2012 16:42

    What about Glock ? At least he’d be rid of these “Marussia” amateurs and their death-traps….

  16. Pedro Paiva, 2 August 2012 16:56

    Good article. I hope that the next article focus on the other side of this: why is it positive for Massa to leave Ferrari and where could he go.

  17. John Aley, 2 August 2012 17:03

    I really do not think Scandinavian temperament goes with Italian and although I think Jensun would be the ideal driver in most ways have doubts about temperament again.

  18. Mario Carneiro Neto, 2 August 2012 17:24

    I want to see Felipe take Michael Schumacher’s seat at Mercedes at the end of this year.

    I doubt that can happen. But it would be amazing.

    I still cannot understand why Ferrari want Vettel when they have Alonso… Surely a team with two leaders would never work out. It’d be a terrible move, in my opinion.

    I’m rooting for one of the Sauber guys to take the Ferrari seat, if Felipe really does have to go… Perez, preferably.

  19. Alex Tomlinson, 2 August 2012 17:29

    Whoever comes in, he must accept that he is a definite number two and that he may only be there for one year. I have to say that I cannot understand why Ferrari would want two superstars in the team but then…
    I would suggest that there is a driver who has proved that he can deliver podiums in the right machinery and circumstances and that is Timo Glock. A solid performer who would fit the bill and deliver regular points.
    I would also like to see Heikki given another chance in a top car and he is an excellent choice, but would he go for one year?

  20. Jeremy Cogman, 2 August 2012 17:40

    Here we go again. I’m no particular Hamilton fan but Massa was NEVER F1 Champion. You can say someone was champion with the points from x races whilst you are only counting his opponent’s points from x-1 races. He’s a lovely chap but apart from one year he’s only ever been average at best and in the wet he’s decidedly mediocre.

  21. Jean Doublet, 2 August 2012 18:00

    @ John Aley: Ah ! The Finns are not Scandinavian. They’re ….Finns and have a very different culture and language from the Scandinavians. That said, Heikki is not the Kimi type, much more amenable and a team player (though I think Kimi got a bad rap because of his bad relations with Ron Dennis). What’s playing against Heikki in my opinion, as much as I like him is that he’s too much of a “second driver” and what works these days is a team where drivers are on an equal standing or close.

  22. Peter Watson, 2 August 2012 18:38

    Why is it that Ferrari do not put a relative unknown into the driving team but rely on experienced drivers? I know you said Montezemolo wants experience but why won’t he take a chance on a newcomer ? After all he has possibly the best all rounder leading the team . Newcomers tend to give their all in the first couple of seasons.

    Has this always been Ferrari’s attitude in your experience?

  23. chris b, 2 August 2012 20:08

    you know Nigel I have mever been a Ferrari fan, i think the only time i followed them was when Gilles was there but there is something inspiring when you see one of those bxxxxy red cars and to see someone who a few years ago was blowing Michael off the park at certain venues to a mere shadow of his potential isn’t that unusual, so hopefully you’ll start to enjoy life again msr massa-

    replacements? best two drivers outside the box, Hulkenberg and DiResta – but neither appropriate as No 2′s but maybe as successors?

    struggling to remember if a Scotsman ever drove for the factory team? I know Innes drove a Rob Walker sharknose but?

  24. joseph winslett, 2 August 2012 20:30

    Heikki Kovalainen; give him a shot!! Kimi and Alonso will not get along

    joseph

  25. Bill, 2 August 2012 20:46

    Hi again. I’ve noticed a comment or two as to whether Massa is world champion material. As defined by the standards of Stewart, Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Alonso and so on, very clearly not. By the same token, would anyone really rate the likes of Damon Hill and (especially) Eddie Irvine as World Champion material in the same league as the big names above? Probably not (in my opinion ‘no way!’ sorry…). But thats irrelevant. The fact is he nearly got there, so he must have something. But it should be remembered that barring some dramatic and unexpected turnaround in years to come, Massa will go down as a ‘nearly man’ who was on the verge of getting there despite not having a car advantage or a compliant team mate…and up against Lewis Hamilton, too. Give the bloke some credit.

  26. John Read, 2 August 2012 21:41

    The job description for Alonso’s “team mate” is headed 2ND BANANA.

    Why would someone like Perez go there now unless he has no ambition?

    The perfect replacement has to be very quick to ensure maximum constructors points and play tail-gunner as required. An honorable temperament and willingness to comply with the ‘contract’ is also vital. Or a mercenary who will take the money and behave . One just has to look at history: Eddie with the soft brake pedal, and Rubens moving to the slow lane at the end of races.

    Vettel one day, but as the replacemnt for Alonso, not 2nd banana.
    Heiki may be the correct choice.

  27. Erwin Smits, 2 August 2012 22:13

    Although I have been a Felipe fan for years, unfortunately, if he does not stay at Ferrari, I dont see him stay in F1 at all. Where could he go after Ferrari ?
    As for his replacement, I rated Perez as the most probable but I confess I did not think of Heikki who I agree is most impressive in the Caterham and would be a good choice alongside Alonso.
    Is it possible Ferrari could choose someone who is not currently in F1 ?

  28. George, 2 August 2012 22:50

    Williams Test Driver Bottas has my vote as ferrari will be going after an up and coming young gun, if they cannot sign Vettle or another “A” Driver.

  29. Peter Mann, 2 August 2012 23:51

    I do wish that when people talk about Massa all but winning the 2008 Championship they’d remember the race at Spa that year when Hamilton was demoted from first to third (through a post-race 25 second penalty for ‘gaining an advantage through cutting the final chicane’) and Massa, who had never led the race, was handed victory.

    Without the extra two points Massa gained in going from second to first (it was in the 10 – 8 – 6 etc points era) all the silly business in Brazil at the end of the season over Glock letting Hamilton take fifth place (and so securing the title) would have been even more of the irrelevancy that it was at the time.

    That’s not to say that Massa hasn’t driven some good races – Brazil 2008 being a good example – but whether it’s the ‘rub of the green’ or something more fundamental, he certainly isn’t providing Ferrari with a decent return on its investment in him.

    The real pity is that he’s always come across in TV interviews as being a thoroughly nice bloke.

  30. Alastair Warren, 3 August 2012 02:00

    I agree with Peter Mann, 2008 was a non season. Besides the ridiculous penalty against Hamilton, as was pointed out in the comments below the Pat Symonds piece here, Alonso was not stripped of his Singapore victory, a race that was thrown by Piquet jnr driving into the barriers. Not stripping Alonso of that win makes Hamilton’s Spa penalty look even more dubious and iniquitous.

    Stripping Alonso of that Singapore win would have given Hamilton 2nd and Rosberg’s first win, so Massa would have been even more out of contention for that championship.

    Toyota wouldn’t have minded moving up the finishers list by one place there either I suspect given the money they poured into their F1 attempt. Who likes to see Williams robbed of points?

    Was it Peter Windsor that opined that the McLaren should have put Hamilton in the race seat in 2006 after Montoya left before the end of the season? Should Ferrari do that now? I can’t see Massa delivering much more now he knows he’s gone.

    I think Arturo Alonso’s suggestion has some merit. Mercedes may have let Schumacher down even if he dropped the ball a little in Hungary. Let Schumacher help out Ferrari for the Constructors championship and Mercedes give a race seat to di Resta or Paffett or let Valtteri Bottas get some race mileage under his belt and give some money to Williams?

  31. Grahame Ward, 3 August 2012 02:53

    It is so interesting to note the different preferences of F1 fans about who would be ideal at Ferrari with Massa gone. Button has always been onand off the pace and his focus seems, like Hamilton to waver from race to race. I doubt that Luca could stand to have JB on the team, and I feel that Alonso would not agree to his appointment.
    If Michael decides to retire at the end of this year the logical replacement is de Resta as he currently is in a Mercedes-Benz powered chassis and has had the M-B tuition in German Touring cars.
    I cannot under stand the praise for Kovelinan. If you put Alonso in the caterham I am sure he would still finish in the top ten and maybe even gain a podium.
    Maldenardo has too big an investement with Frank Williams to move just yet and I doubt if Luce di M would risk Venezualan petro money when he still gets significant backing from both FIAT and that Geneva based group..
    Nobody has mentioned Nico, but he, despite coming down from his high self engranshment position this year, may just be too Germanic for the Maranello team, and I am not sure if Alonso would want such a team-mate.
    There are two guys at Toro Rosso who could well fit in with Ferrari and be smart enough to understand the print in their Maranello agreement, particularly young Riccardo.

  32. A.S. Gilbert, 3 August 2012 05:14

    This topic has generated great response.
    I fear Felipe is running out his string at Maranello. He simply is not taking enough points away from Alonso’s rivals.
    Hekki Kovalainen has the best credentials in this group. Quick, ethical, great self analysis and marketable.
    Kamui Kobayashi would work too, but may have hit the ceiling in the perception of his potential. I think he’d bloom, quite usefullyat Ferrari. A choice that would light the Asian fan base up, for sure.
    Perez has what emerging teams (and F1) need, wow factor pace, a funding package from a major “new world” economy. Two years hence, he may be a number one seat candidate and more evolved.
    Sentimentally, Kubica is the ultimate answer, but the news around Robert is too quiet.
    His talent easily at the highest tier, exuding confident composure, while having the greatest of wills.
    I hope we’ll see him again in F1, sadly, doubt is creeping in.
    Felipe Massa had some moments, he is a golden man personally. I do think his success’ came in “a car and a half” that he knew what to do with, in an equipe’ alienated by their new team leader.

  33. Jon Pollak, 3 August 2012 05:14

    Alonso has been scintillating.
    Who does HE want as a number 2?

    Jp

  34. Alastair Warren, 3 August 2012 05:22

    Grahame, another British publication that covers motor sport matters have polled Team Principals asking them to rate current F1 drivers. They seem to rate Kovalainen and what’s to say he won’t bounce back like Grosjean and Räikkönen have.

    Kovalainen was being lauded to achieve great things when he arrived in F1, look how long Button was in the wilderness before all of the stars aligned for him.

    I’m wondering how objective anyone can be about driver performance this season given the tyre lottery, but the counter to that thought would be Alonso.

  35. Alex Milligan, 3 August 2012 05:36

    Perez would be a disaster in my opinion. Ego way beyond results delivered so far and he needs another season or 2 before stepping up as I think he would be psychologically crushed by Alonso’s sheer pace and the fact that Ferrari is very much his team.
    Trulli – that is surely a joke. Remeber Fisichella a year or two back – utter embarrassment, although I suppose Jarno’s mobile roadblock tactics could assist Alonso in some races.
    I think DiResta would be an interesting choice. Not peceived as an immediate threat to FA, I think he would assist in the Constructors and in his second season in a red car be a genuine contender.
    Sad to see Massa in decline, but agree that it would be a good move if he could join MB or swap with DiResta and be No.1 at Force India.
    As for Schumacher rejoining Ferrari – PLEASE!!! The sooner he retires for good the better. Lets see another young tyro join the F1 ranks……..

  36. Alex Milligan, 3 August 2012 05:40

    Bill, please read the article on Damon Hill in the August Motor Sport hard copy.
    Yes he had the best car, but look at his team mate and opposition the year he rightly became WC.
    Damon worked hard for his success and deserved his Champion status, especially when you consider the thooroughly dirty and unsporting tactics employed by Schumacher (let us not forget that he was managed the previous year by a certain Briatore a proven cheat, in a car that many suspected was illegal on many occasions).

  37. P.M. Herrmann, 3 August 2012 06:25

    What is with Adrian Sutil for the rest of the season and than look for the next year?!

  38. david ould, 3 August 2012 06:54

    Paul di Resta, would be great i think , but its a pity about Massa none the less, HOWEVER not if Vettel really is still earmarked for2014 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  39. John B, 3 August 2012 07:38

    If Vettel does sign in 2014 that would be some serious fireworks. “Sebastian – Fernando is faster than you….”?
    That would be some seriously good racing there to see them in the same machinery.
    Then who goes to Red Bull?

  40. FernanDino, 3 August 2012 07:54

    Monty has already ruled out Perez, though it’s a real shame. Kovalainen has definitely never been in the race. Webber looked like the preferred choice but he decided to stay. So now, there is little choice left of experienced winning drivers. I am sure Felipe’s destiny will be decided after Monza unless Ferrari’s patience has already shown its limit. He might well stay one more season. Raikkonen would be my preferred choice and not only because there’s no-one left. in 2009 his Ferrari was a donkey and although he failed to become the team leader Ferrari was expecting his performance was down to the below-par car. And he never critisized anything nor anyone. With a good car Kimi delivers!
    Let me also say again that Monty’s stance with regard to their 2nd driver is definitely out-dated! To say that Perez is not experienced enough is nonsense. By early 2013 he will have done 40 races or so. That’s more than enough for not being called a rookie! Hamilton was also unexperienced when he arrived at McLaren.

  41. Andrew Scoley, 3 August 2012 08:21

    On past evidence, neither Alonso nor Vettel are very good at finishing behind respective team mates. Both in the same team would probably result in a Senna and Prost success rate, and a considerable falling out at the same time.

    Someone similar to Jean Alesi- quick, not a true number one, but who always seemed to bring the car home and earn points. Heidfeld would fit nicely, sadly I think his time has passed. Heikki would be good.

  42. John S Patterson, USA, 3 August 2012 12:37

    I guess Heikki is everyone’s favorite #2 now that Reubens has moved on. He would be a good choice for sure, but I think one of the “Nicos” might be considered, especially Rosberg.

    relinuca

  43. PeteH, 3 August 2012 13:05

    How about Schumacher M for a year.

    That could be ‘interesting’.

  44. Erwin Smits, 3 August 2012 17:31

    To react to one of the few negative comments on Heikki ; we should definitely try to get Fernando and Heikki swap cars for one race !!!!!!! I cannot wait to see a Caterham on the podium !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    If that happens I certainly will believe in santa Claus again

  45. hamfan, 3 August 2012 18:29

    Massa, great guy that he appears to be outside the cockpit, has clearly never recovered results-wise. Undeniable. So he’s a goner.

    Ferrari will need a journeyman who won’t ‘do a Hamilton’ on Fernando and show him up again, so what’ll be interesting to see is which up-and-comer takes the bait, sacrificing career dreams for the paypacket – Irivine, Rubens, er, Massa… Any of this year’s or last year’s Rosso lineup would probably do. Glock. Heikki. Hulk, di Resta, Perez or Koba perhaps, though all seem confident (well, hopeful) greatness beckons, even if they’ll need to do it in slo-mo stealth mode like Button.

    No big name or semi-big name worth his salt will touch it with a bargepole. Which makes it all the more interesting that Seb appears to be set to decamp for 2014 – will FA be pushed, a la Kimi, or are Ferrari going to try and run a Mclaren-like setup? Whichever, I predict fireworks.

    The Eurozone meltdown could well make it all academic. Italy is as much a goner as Massa…

  46. hamfan, 3 August 2012 18:44

    PS. Forgot to place my bet. I think Button’ll take the seat. Three years at Mclaren completed, WDC box ticked already, and the compo Mclaren get from Ferrari for buying out his contract will help them buy in a younger replacement. Button gives no sign that he ‘really’ wants another WDC, so the lure of a couple of seasons at Ferrari before heading off for the beaches or golf courses, will surely attract him. Could it be that this is why he’s been off-colour for Mclaren of late? Does his team already know a move’s in the bag?…

    PPS. Nigel, this ‘fourth best car’ stuff has to stop. Yes, it sometimes is, but all the cars this year have been up and down like yo-yos, relative performance-wise, so it’s nonsensical. There is no stable yardstick, race-to-race. Merc, RBR, Macca, Lotus, Sauber and, yes, Ferrari (esp in the wet) have all been the ‘best’ chassis at different times/races this year. THAT is the defining characteristic of F1 2012. Hard to tell whether, at any particular track, FA’s wringing a bad car’s neck or he’s driving a car that’s best of the field and Massa’s making a right pig’s ear…

  47. Bob Graham, 4 August 2012 11:27

    I would not be surprised to see Massa replaced at Ferrari, and frankly, based upon performance the move would be justified.

    But if I no longer can rate him highly as a driver, I will always remember the extraordinary class and dignity he displayed when nosed out by Lewis Hamilton for the 2008 World Drivers’ Championship.

  48. Jeremy Willings, 5 August 2012 12:29

    Paul Di Resta could be an intersting prospect for Ferrari. He has proved to be an excellent driver for Force India.

  49. Zephyr, 5 August 2012 15:20

    Kamui Kobayashi. He’s the most aggressive of the options available. They don’t want him at Sauber, so he would accept to drive a Ferrari almost for peanuts. Ferrari already has a driver to fight championships who thinks about points instead of overtaking the driver who is in front of him. They could afford a driver who gives more show to their supporters and any other viewers. Besides, Ferrari needs to sell more luxury sports cars in the Far East.

  50. Stephen, 6 August 2012 18:43

    It would be a smame if Massa can not stay, but Ferrari will not want another season without getting two cars worth of constructors points at each event.

    Personally if Massa is to leave I would like to see Paul DiResta get the drive.

    But if the Italians wanted an Italian driver who better than Valentino Rossi and if he was lined up to replace Massa next year he could get some practice this year in the rest of the F1 season in the events that do not clash Moto GP by driving on the Fridays as some teams do with their reserve drivers as long as he could get a F1 Super Licence.

  51. Alastair Warren, 6 August 2012 19:02

    With other pundits saying those intent on beating Alonso to the title need to consider team orders, and a resurgent Lotus badged Renault team becoming quite a threat do Ferrari have the luxury of not replacing Massa now?

    It’s a case of better the devil you know?

  52. DDT, 9 August 2012 06:47

    Felipe is a nice guy, but he gets rattled in the car and makes silly mistakes. I believe he’ll continue to put the head injury behind him, but he’ll never be consistent enough to win the WDC.
    Ferrari don’t just a mediocre guy to accumulate polite points alongside Alonso. They want someone capable of winning the WDC if and when Alonso can’t. Alonso doesn’t need an older guy to help with car development, he needs a young fast guy to keep him sharp. They need to get someone on the rise, a future star. The way things are in F1 at the moment, its hard to pick from the younger guys. Hulkenberg, Di Resta, Perez, Ricarrdo are all good. But they aren’t much younger than Vettel who is CLEARLY a present and future star. Tough call.

  53. Helge, 10 August 2012 09:09

    My feeling is that Ferrari will stick to their recipe for success and look for a second driver that is content in this role in a top team, but fast, reliable ( in that point Massa has recently disappointed), experienced enough and capable of stepping in for the top man in case that he should have to miss races – like Schumacher in 1999. Kovalainen and Sutil would fit this bill, but Kobayashi, Glock and Massa himself are acceptable alternatives.

    Since Enzo Ferraris death, Ferraris priorities have been to think first about the contructors championship, not to see 2 of their drivers racing it out neck to neck.

  54. DDT, 10 August 2012 16:49

    The more I think about it, Kobayashi is the ideal choice to replace Massa. Sauber is in the Ferrari family so that’s a natural. He is fast and aggressive and has on many occasions driven the car past its capabilities. In a top car he could dial the aggression back, and let the car take him to the front.
    He would be a formidable defender, a good qualifier and could pile up the points and even win any time Alonso had problems.
    BTW: I hope Massa gets another chance in F1. He certainly is better than most of the drivers out there.

  55. Roger, 17 August 2012 15:58

    The ideal partner for Fernando at Ferrari is Jenson Button in my mind. I think they would have been really good team mates.
    It is obvious that some here do not know talent when he sees it.
    Mark Keatley-Palmer what you are saying about Kimi Raikkonen shows just how little you understand of the sport.
    Kimi is getting points after points and do you ever see him crashing into anybody or anybody crashing into him? He is amazingly good staying out of trouble.
    I have been following Formula 1 since the early 1980`s and in my mind Kimi is just as good as Schumacher was in his glory days.
    In my mind there is no one better than Kimi!!
    He have the natural talent for racing Formula 1.

    I really do not think that he enjoyed his switch from McLaren to Ferrari and while at Ferrari Kimi was not a happy man.
    If Ron was running the McLaren team i think Kimi would have been there shortly. That is home for Kimi

  56. jimmy c, 18 August 2012 15:28

    SATO!

  57. jimmy c, 18 August 2012 15:31

    i agree with the comments noting that kobayashi would be a goid fit. it would be nice to see a japanese driver with some flair finally rewarded with a chance in a top car.. failing that – SATO!

  58. Pierre, 12 September 2012 07:51

    Come on guys! You can’t be serious when you propose Kovalainen for Ferrari! McLaren dumped him when he was young. Does anyone really think that in the meantime Heikki just became a better driver by kicking his Caterham ranked between 18th and 24th?

  59. Benj, 11 November 2012 17:27

    Well, why not?

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