Domenicali: We are aligned with Felipe and we want to protect him

(L to R): Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari with Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday 8 September 2011.

Stefano Domenicali still standing by Felipe Massa

Aug.1 (GMM) Stefano Domenicali has hinted that if Ferrari is on the market for a driver to replace Felipe Massa it will be for a number two driver, to back the team’s undisputed number one driver Fernando Alonso, but the Maranello team boss has reiterated the team’s loyalty to their beleaguered Brazilian driver.

Felipe Massa Fernando Alonso FerrariWith the 2013 option on Massa’s contract running out last week, a large number of drivers have been linked (by the media) to his seat for next season.

Reportedly the latest on the list is the team’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

“Kimi was a world champion with us and I have seen the gossip – but nothing more than that,” team boss Stefano Domenicali is quoted by the Sun newspaper.

Quotes attributed to Domenicali by the German broadcaster Sky, however, appear to play down the likelihood that Alonso will be paired with an equal next year.

“It has always been Ferrari’s philosophy,” the Italian explained, “to have a great champion and then a very good driver who is close to him.”

In effect, he is referring to the paddock perception of Ferrari’s ‘number 1 and number 2′ approach to its driver lineups.

Stefano Domenicali on the Podium with Kimi raikkonen after the 2007 Turkish GPSo does that mean drivers like Raikkonen, or McLaren‘s Jenson Button – both world champions – are actually unlikely teammates for Alonso in 2013?

“I think these drivers have contracts with other teams,” Domenicali answered. “And we are not in a rush.”

Number 2 or not, however, money could be a factor.

Brazilian correspondent Livio Oricchio thinks that Lotus’ Raikkonen could double his estimated EUR 5 million  retainer by taking Massa’s Ferrari seat.

According to Raymond Blancafort, writing in El Mundo Deportivo, the transaction would also work out for Ferrari, because a Raikkonen-like haul of points for Massa would see the Italian team in front in the lucrative constructors’ championships.

With Ferrari currently ranked just fourth due to Massa’s meagre tally of 25 points, the situation stands to cost Ferrari many millions when the sport’s 2012 income is divvied up.

“The Brazilian at the moment is very expensive to Ferrari,” Blancafort said.

Domenicali is keen to play down the speculation for now.

“We are aligned with Felipe and we want to protect him. It is important for this championship,” he said.

Subbed by AJN.

  • Forza Ferrari

    I love Felipe, he’s such a great guy, but as a Ferrari fan even my patience with him is running out. He simply must start performing now! But if he feels that he can’t do that, then he should just do the right thing and leave. Places from 9 to 15 or even worse are certainly not appropriate places for a Ferrari driver.

  • seb

    until when? till you just drop him off when he’s useless to you? USERS

  • Andy – London

    There are only a few elite drivers that maintain great form on a consistent level, and most others seem to have one perfect weekend where they are untouchable when the car is perfect. Massa’s chance came and went in 2008, as did Webbers in 2010. I even remember Ralf being untouchable over a single race weekend for Williams.
    This year, Alonso and Vettel are just edging Hamilton in sheer consistency and mental strength (even though Lewis was perfect in Hungary). I would say Kimi is another great performer this year. Grosjean just needs more craft because he certainly has some raw speed.

  • Jody Renza

    Why not get the best #2 in the business Rubens Barrichello (if Massa must be replaced) for the one season till Pérez is (in Luca’s words) ready for Ferrari in 2013..?

  • aks

    ferrari are too smart for wat the comments r they will never play with the number 2 coz they always want their number 1 to be the best and not have competition within the team