Ferrari would be happy to retain Felipe Massa next season but the Brazilian has to deliver the results, team principal Stefano Domenicali said on Wednesday.
Massa’s contract expires at the end of the season and his place at Formula 1’s most successful and glamorous team has again been called into question, as has been the case for the last few years.
The Brazilian has not won a race since 2008 and appeared on the podium only twice last year.
This season he finished third in Spain, but has been out-qualified 8-3 by his double world champion team mate Fernando Alonso. While Alonso is second overall with 151 points, Massa has scored 67.
“My favourite choice would be, of course, to keep Felipe because Felipe is a very good guy – very dedicated to the team – and when you look around there are not so many drivers out there that you swap and they immediately deliver,” said Domenicali in an interview with the official F1 website.
“But, of course, we need good results from Felipe, so that’s why we will not rush as we have to make the right decision for the team.”
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari’s 2007 world champion, could be slotted in straight away and Domenicali spoke highly of him without giving anything away.
“Kimi is a very fast driver and everybody knows how I rate him,” he said. “But if I make a comment now it will be taken as a direct answer…there is no rush and we will make the right decision in the right moment.”
Raikkonen has also been linked to champions Red Bull and McLaren in media speculation, but Lotus are confident that they can keep him.
Other drivers who might be in the frame for a Ferrari seat include Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Paul di Resta.
Domenicali, whose next race is Ferrari’s home Italian Grand Prix at Monza, said that rumours and gossip were all part of the ‘psychological game’ and not relevant to him.
“I am laughing and thinking about the poor people who are reading these kinds of things,” he said. “If they really know the truth they would never read such absurd things again.”
Ferrari have former Lotus technical director James Allison joining next week and the team will soon switch their focus to the 2014 car due to the huge rule changes being introduced next season.
“September is the month where we will basically start to shift, as the 2014 project is very complex,” said Domenicali. “At the end of September we will then basically switch everyone, depending of course on how the situation is with the championship.”
Alonso is 46 points adrift of Red Bull’s triple champion Sebastian Vettel with eight races remaining while Ferrari are third in the constructors’ standings with 218 points to Red Bull’s 312. (Reuters)
Subbed by AJN.