In 2012, Ferrari endured a campaign of criticism, from the vocal and influential Italian media, as the team kept faith in Felipe Massa, but the Brazilian turned around his performances, upon which he was granted a contract extension by the team. Stefano Domenicali believes that this was the correct decision.
Speaking during a mamoth session with the media at the Wrooom media event at Madonna di Campiglio, the Ferrari team principal said, “I think the toughest part of Felipe’s career is now behind him. After last summer, his approach turned about and as a result, his performance on track changed and he managed to show just how talented he is. I’m sure that his problem was not linked to his contractual situation.”
Massa has been a part of the Ferrari ‘family’ for a decade, starting at Ferrari-powered Sauber in 2002 and also serving as a Ferrari tester before joining as a race driver in 2006 and staying on after Michael Schumacher’s first retirement.
The Brazilian was runner-up in the 2008 championship to Hamilton by a single point and has won 11 grands prix with Ferrari, his last coming in Brazil at the end of 2008.
Domenicali recalls the stress: “Personally, there was a lot of pressure on me regarding possible changes, but in the interests of the team, I preferred to wait, and today, I’m convinced that keeping Felipe in the Ferrari family was the right decision.”
The turning point for Massa was perhaps Hungary. From then on he scored in all the remaining ten rounds of the championships with the highlight being his second place finish in Japan – his best result since July 2010 when he was runner-up in Germany and his first top-three finish since he was third in South Korea in October 2010.
It is also no secret that Massa will play second fiddle in the team if need be, and he has a good relationship with Alonso. Thus in October last year Ferrari confirmed the Brazilian for 2013.
“His performance in the second half of the season contributed significantly to our second place in the constructors’ classification: for the team that is a strong point and for Fernando, it provides further impetus to try even harder,” acknowledged Domenicali. (GP247)
Subbed by AJN.