Massa makes Ferrari strong as a team says Marko

Fernando Alonso Felipe Massa

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa has made Ferrari a strong contender for the constructors’ Formula 1 world championship, according to Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko.

Brazilian Massa struggled since returning from his near-fatal crash of 2009, but towards the end of last season the 31-year-old bounced right back onto the pace.

“He was ahead of (Fernando) Alonso in practice,” Brazilian commentator Lito Cavalcanti said on Sportv in Malaysia.

“In fact Felipe was faster than Alonso in the last three races,” he added.

Last year, amid Massa’s slump, Ferrari lost the constructors’ championship to Red Bull by 60 points.

Red Bull’s Marko now says: “In contrast to last year, Massa is now at Alonso’s level, and so Ferrari is now one of our strongest opponents in the constructors’ championship.

“They are strong as a team,” he said on Austrian Servus TV.

Ferrari technical director Pat Fry told Speed Week: “He (Massa) has continued this year where he left off in 2012.

“As a team, we are delighted with him, not least because of the constructors’ standings.”

After the Melbourne season opener, Maranello based Ferrari leads Lotus and Red Bull by 4 and 7 points respectively.