Jan.4 (GMM) Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has defended Felipe Massa whilst conceding that a number of drivers at rival teams impressed him during the course of 2011.
Montezemolo is honouring Brazilian Massa’s 2012 contract but making no secret that the Maranello based team is keeping its mind open as to the identity of Fernando Alonso’s next teammate.
“2012 is the crucial season for Felipe. We were not satisfied with his past season and neither was he,” Montezemolo is quoted by Corriere dello Sport newspaper.
“What I cannot forget is the fact that Felipe was often faster than Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen. He helped Kimi to his championship and a year later was a hair short of being champion himself.
“If the tyres warm up for him better next season, we believe Felipe can cope much better.”
Naturally, however, Massa’s seat is highly coveted within the F1 paddock, while Montezemolo admitted Ferrari is also keeping an eye on its options.
“Jenson Button was just excellent,” said the Italian, referring to the 2011 championship runner-up who currently drives for McLaren.
“Mark Webber is a good second driver, and Nico Rosberg has done well with a car that has not been competitive.
“It is also good to develop drivers within yourself, so while Sergio Perez is a Sauber driver, in fact he has developed in Ferrari’s academy.
“(And) Jules Bianchi could develop further if he can test,” added Montezemolo, a staunch advocate for more testing in formula one.
Montezemolo did not mention the recovering Polish driver Robert Kubica.