Who should Ferrari replace Felipe Massa with?

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Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012Felipe Massa’s poor start to the season has fuelled speculation he will be replaced by Ferrari at the end of the season, if not sooner.

Ferrari themselves highlighted the gulf between Massa and team mate Fernando Alonso on Monday:

“Fernando has always maintained a very high level (67 points and second place in 2010, 51 and fifth place last year) while Felipe?s drop off has made itself felt.

“The Brazilian had picked up 49 points two years ago and 24 the following year, while so far this season he has just two.

“In Montmelo, Felipe was very unlucky, both in the race and in qualifying, but everyone, he more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear starting right away with the Monaco Grand Prix.”

Ferrari continue to rubbish rumours that Massa will be replaced any time soon, writing the following on Twitter yesterday:

“What was published on our web site Monday evening just reflected what [Stefano] Domenicali said Sunday night about Felipe, nothing more than this!

“Anyway, someone has found a good opportunity to promote the umpteenth candidate to replace Felipe: this time is [Jerome] D’Ambrosio…”

It’s an inescapable fact that Massa has woefully under-performed so far this year. He has been out-qualified 5-0 by Alonso and out-raced 4-0 (Massa retired in Australia while running well behind his team mate). He’s been behind Alonso for all bar 13 of 280 racing laps.

Nor is this atypical of Massa’s performance since the pair became team mates. He was out-qualified 15-4 by Alonso in the last two seasons. In the races, he was beaten 13-4 in 2010 and 13-2 in 2011:

This has inevitably prompted rumours about his future, and plenty of spurious headlines tipping all manner of drivers to take Massa’s seat. But the bottom line is it’s surprising Ferrari have put up with such poor performance this long and inconceivable they would be happy for it to continue.

With that in mind, what should Ferrari look for in a replacement?

Should they follow McLaren’s lead in pairing up two world champions? Should they settle for a safe ‘number two’ driver alongside Alonso? Or should they keep the faith with Massa for another year?

Being Ferrari, they could take their pick of practically any driver on the grid. For the purposes of this poll I’ve omitted those who are known to have contracts for next year with top teams (Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen). I’ve also included a few options of drivers who have recently left F1 and are looking to enter the sport.

Who do you think should be Alonso’s team mate next year? Select from the options below and explain your choice in the comments.

Who should Ferrari replace Felipe Massa with?

  • Mark Webber (7%)
  • Lewis Hamilton (4%)
  • Michael Schumacher (1%)
  • Romain Grosjean (1%)
  • Paul di Resta (8%)
  • Nico Hulkenberg (1%)
  • Kamui Kobayashi (6%)
  • Sergio Perez (28%)
  • Daniel Ricciardo (0%)
  • Jean-Eric Vergne (0%)
  • Pastor Maldonado (1%)
  • Bruno Senna (0%)
  • Heikki Kovalainen (4%)
  • Vitaly Petrov (0%)
  • Pedro de la Rosa (0%)
  • Narain Karthikeyan (2%)
  • Timo Glock (2%)
  • Charles Pic (0%)
  • Robert Kubica (12%)
  • Nick Heidfeld (2%)
  • Jerome d'Ambrosio (2%)
  • Rubens Barrichello (2%)
  • Adrian Sutil (8%)
  • Someone else (2%)
  • They should keep Massa (4%)
  • Sebastien Buemi (0%)
  • Jaime Alguersuari (3%)

Total Voters: 797

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207 comments on Who should Ferrari replace Felipe Massa with?

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  1. pwaa (@pwaa) said on 17th May 2012, 13:42

    No love for Alguersuari?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th May 2012, 14:00

      Not sure a completely Spanish lineup would be the thing for Ferrari. Although having an Alonso cloned and into the car might do miracles (if he doesn’t fall out with the original Alonso over who comes first).

      I think that if Webber wants, he might fit right in at Ferrari. Taking Sutil could be a solution as well, they might start giving him a few FP3 sessions, although preferably they would put him in the car for some of the races this year to get him up and running then.
      And if Hamilton would fancy a go at the prancing horse they should grab him with both hands (same would go for either Vettel or Button, probably for Rosberg as well). Maybe a Heikki or a Timo might be interested?

      For the rest, I think its still a bit too early to call for the likes of Hulk, Di Resta, Perez and others without a win under their belt, as Ferrari clearly needs to have potential or even better proven GP winners in the team to even think of the constructors title.

      • thekingofspa (@) said on 17th May 2012, 16:36

        I think we have a COTD…

      • John H (@john-h) said on 17th May 2012, 18:08

        And if Hamilton would fancy a go at the prancing horse they should grab him with both hands

        I think a certain Fernando might have a say about this! No chance in a million years.

        • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 17th May 2012, 18:40

          @john-h I wouldn’t be too sure about that. It’s pretty well publicised that Hamilton and Alonso now get on pretty well; although granted, them being team mates again might be a stretch.

          I went for Sutil, as I don’t think anyone currently with one of the other teams should leave. But if I had to pick one of those drivers it would be Kovaleinen 100%.

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 17th May 2012, 19:09

          @john-h ummh not so sure. I think they’d get along alright now that Hamilton is a established top tier driver.

          And it would be interesting as heck!

      • Txizzle (@txizzle) said on 17th May 2012, 20:21

        i’d say bring back Badoer, just for the fun of it. He can’t do much worse then Massa! :P

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th May 2012, 0:07

        As you say Webber would probably fit well with Ferrari and provide the solid back-up points Ferrari need, he seems to get decent results from all level of cars and maybe just maybe in a Ferrari he might even make some good starts.

    • IDR (@idr) said on 17th May 2012, 17:02

      Yeah, Alguersuari is not here as an option but I found quite more sad not to have KUBICA.

      Have you loose all hope here Keith?

      I would love to see the Polish recovering his form in a Ferrari, helped by his very close friend Fernando.

      We have very short memory.

      • IDR (@idr) said on 17th May 2012, 17:03

        Why the hell I do not have a second look just to check?

        Forget about all I said!!!

      • John H (@john-h) said on 17th May 2012, 18:11

        Especially as Alguersuari is Pirelli test driver of course. Any avantage with these crazy tyres has to be a bonus for Ferrari. I think its a good shout. Perez is the obvious choice I suppose though.

        If I were Ferrari though, I would go for Sutil because personally I think he still has bags of potential in the right environment.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th May 2012, 18:53

      @pwaa I’ve added Alguersuari (and Buemi), but I can’t see Ferrari being all that eager to hire Red Bull’s cast-offs.

      @idr Kubica is already on there, though it’s gone very quiet around him at the moment. Not a good sign.

      • Victor. (@victor) said on 17th May 2012, 20:00

        If I were Ferrari, and Kubica turned out to be capable of racing, I would give him a one year contract with a potential extension. If he is capable of racing, and that is a big if, I cannot see him performing worse than Massa is at the moment. I am fairly confident he would have scored 2 points by now. If, on the other hand, it turns out that he is just as or nearly as quick as he was, Ferrari have got their hands on a phenomenal driver for a fraction of the price and before the competition has become aware of his return.

        Perez is good, but I would not put him in a Ferrari just yet. Firstly, I do not think he has not shown all that much (he has had some good performances, but let’s not get carried away) and I hardly think Alonso will be a good teammate for him. Alonso could help Kubica much more – they have a similar attitudes, a similar driving style, and are, at the end of the day, friends. For how much that counts in Formula 1 I am not too sure, but considering Kubica is handicapped, I cannot see Alonso being ruthless towards him.

        Either way, they need some fresh blood.

        • jimscreechy (@) said on 17th May 2012, 21:13

          Kubica! give it a reat. I bet you still harp on about when you could get a loaf of bread, a stick of butter and a newspaper for 3 and 6.

      • DVC (@dvc) said on 17th May 2012, 23:02

        Apparently he is testing rally cars at the moment: http://robertscomeback.blogspot.com.au/

      • M30 said on 18th May 2012, 1:58

        Keith, you forgot JARNO TRULLI!
        Ferrari has somewhat become the Italian driver graveyard! A place where Italian drivers can retire in honour!

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 17th May 2012, 19:31

      look at the Force Indias probably the slowest car of the mid teams but one of the strongest line-ups both Di Resta and Hulk seem to make no mistakes, I would love to see one of them at Ferrari or perhaps Bottas, Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso guys still make too many mistakes, I cant think of any other guys that could match Alonso both technically and Mentally.

    • Ben (@gogolf03) said on 18th May 2012, 1:00

      I would make Alguersuari my dark horse pick for Ferrari in 2013. What has been the single most tumultuous element of the 2012 season? Pirelli tyres of course and driving within the threshold of maximum performance. Who better to have driving for your team but the principle Pirelli test driver? Alguersuari is young (22) and could be a good compliment to the experience of Alonso without crowding his influence within the team. Alguersuari also scored 11 more points than Buemi in 2011 but politicking the wrong way with Marko proved fatal.

      Farrari have all their eggs in one basket with Alonso. Take Alguersari for a driver with unique experiences and enough heart to co-commentate BBC radio just to be engaged with formula 1.

      • Prof Kirk (@prof-kirk) said on 18th May 2012, 3:28

        Ferrari operate on a number #1 driver system, so you can safely dismiss Ferrari considering anyone with talent to compete with Alonso, and somebody who would accept to be the number #2 driver.

        Mark Webber offers the inside information of the magic behind the RedBull barn house, and he has reached that understanding of being a number #2 driver last season (although making his intentions to be considered to be a #1 driver this year as you would expect every year at the start of the season). And then you would expect Webber to retire after his one year stint and to be replaced with a younger more talented driver such as Sergio Perez, or even a Ferrari bred rookie like the McLaren born and bred Hamilton.

        If we were to see Massa drop out this season I think we might see Alguersuari or some novelty Italian Drivers young or Experienced, the Kubica link that has also been mentioned a bit is another very sound option, to sign a contract for next season and do Friday sessions instead of Massa to warm back into the sport.


        • suka (@suka) said on 18th May 2012, 10:02

          If I was choosing, it’d be Webber like I voted.
          But it is too early to make a perfect pick but too late to dismiss Massa.
          They’ve gotto do it after the next race if he finishes behind Alonso even with .100s gap.
          Among the top teams, Only the Mercedes have sort of similar unbalanced driver lineup with MS underperforming.

  2. I think Sergio Perez would be a great pick, I absolutely loved watching him fight in Malaysia and think he is a good young talent on the grid!

  3. Ribf1 (@) said on 17th May 2012, 13:46

    Sergio Perez. But Romain Grosjean is also good.

  4. Tom Bisset (@pianoshizzle) said on 17th May 2012, 13:47

    Slight glitch in the poll their, Keith. The poll allows you to vote to replace Felipe Massa with Felipe Massa.

  5. davros said on 17th May 2012, 13:48

    I’d go for Webber simply because a young driver would have their career ruined by Alonso.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 17th May 2012, 13:48

    Perez for me.

    I don’t feel entirely comfortable voting for him now, I think he still needs to put in some more consistent and good performances to be seriously considered, however, I really can’t see Ferrari putting up with Massa for another year.

    I’ve argued in the past that it serves them well to have Massa be in the team, he knows his place and that seems to suit Ferrari’s often-employed philosophy of a clear number 1 and 2. However, new teams like Lotus and Mercedes are starting to become very competitive so Ferrari can’t afford to drop off everyone’s radar. They need a shake-up for the fans and certainly one for the constructors championship, especially if the Concorde Agreement multiplier is to be reset and they can no longer ride on the tails off former glory when it comes to the end of season FOM payout.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th May 2012, 0:19

      I agree that Perez looks good for the future, but Ferrari need good points right now and maybe Perez is looking good because the Sauber is good (probably better than the Ferrari), he may not be so impressive driving a dog.

      • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 18th May 2012, 7:05

        Soon we’ll hear that Catheram is better than Ferrari. Seriously, I know that people like to glorify Alonso, by saying that he’s doing wonders in a mediocre car but this is getting really old now. More importantly, I don’t think it’s true. Ferrari has one of the best cars on the grid. They are not 100% happy with it, because it’s not a dominant car. However it’s a very good machine, capable of podiums and GP wins in the hands of a good driver. The problem is, that Ferrari only has one good driver now.

        • MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 18th May 2012, 7:07


          Sorry for the typo.

        • 1 of the 3 said on 18th May 2012, 7:56

          Agree with this %100. I was actually wondering if anyone else thought the same and, well, you’ve said it.

          I feel that the environment of Alonso being a clear #1 at Ferrari helps him even more than having the perfect car. In other words, he does have the perfect car because of the atmosphere – I feel some people underestimate the atmosphere for Alonso. But it seems that at least %50 of Alonso being Alonso is indeed that Ferrari atmosphere and the team environment at Maranello.

          • RaulZ (@raulz) said on 18th May 2012, 13:55

            We’ll never know how the Ferrari is if Alonso performances so good and Massa so bad. Is Alonso so good? Is Massa so bad? I think Ham and Alo at the Ferrari would show the real performace. I’t would be great but I think Ferrari will support Alonso as McLaren did with Hamilton.

        • Mercapecih said on 20th May 2012, 1:41

          I think Alonso is that good..I respectfully disagree wit you. Almost every F1 analyst and almost anybody on the grid would tell you that he is probably the best driver; the best in terms of most complete, his ability to make the car faster is quite famous. I prefer LH driving style, Alonso reminds me to Prots (a calculator, driving to perfection without mistakes getting the maximum possible points without risking a DNF)

  7. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 17th May 2012, 13:49

    I think there’s just one obvious choice: Sergio Perez. He’s Ferrari’s future, really, and he has showed great speed in the Sauber.

    But if they feel it’d be too soon to get him in the Ferrari, then they could keep Massa going? why not? Afterall, Felipe’s been sucking badly in recent seasons, so it’s obviously not “urgent” for them to drop him off, otherwise they’d have done it, like they did with Raikkonen back in 2009, paying his contract but getting someone else.

  8. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 17th May 2012, 13:49

    Paul di Resta.

    Because he isn’t Sergio Perez. (Don’t go Checo!)

  9. barkun (@barkun) said on 17th May 2012, 13:51

    I voted Kamui (only because I want to see him in a top team) but I think they will go for Perez.

  10. RIISE (@riise) said on 17th May 2012, 13:54

    I do think Massa should be replaced but what good would it do? Giancarlo in 2009 did a horrid job albeit the Ferrari wasn’t great, but still…an experienced current driver came in and couldn’t adapt. Even after a 2nd place at Spa.

    If they did plump to find a replacement, realistically I can’t really see past Perez, I don’t think he will do much better than Felipe but he will end up at Ferrari at some point anyway, so for him to get used to the Maranello outfit (I mean as an actual GP driver) will be very valuable to him. I think his quality is exaggerated though, especially after Malaysia but undoubtedly he will be a race winner in a capable car.

    But if this Ferrari turns out to be a genuine title challenger for the rest of the season (I’m not saying Perez couldn’t deliver but he wouldn’t score big points), they will need a driver that can deliver results every race. I don’t think Massa will score big points for Ferrari this year even if Fernando ends up winning 6-7 races over the season so they need an experienced capable driver.

    I’ll go out on a limb and say Barrichello but it is unlikely to happen.

  11. matthewf1 (@) said on 17th May 2012, 13:57

    Heidfeld lol – did you have a smerk on your face when you added him to this list Keith:-)

    Kovalainen would be a good choice. As many people have said, Perez could have his career ruined by joining Alonso now. Heikki is older, and would be a better fit at this point in time. He has been very solid for Lotus/Caterham for 2.25 years, and I think he deserves another go in a non GP2 car.

    A question – do you thin Ferrari would consult Alonso about whether to replace Massa, and if so, also ask Fernando who he would like as a team mate?

    • sagar atgamkar (@sagaratgamkar) said on 17th May 2012, 14:03

      they are very much discussing everything from the car to the daily meals with him. he’ll be making a big influence on that decision

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 17th May 2012, 14:47

      I’m not laughing. Heidfeld makes a lot of sense. He wants to get back in the sport, he is good, and he is available. Ferrari should go for Perez or Kobayashi, but it’s not like they have standing contract options. I should say, unless they have those options, becuase who can know. But for Perez at least he should not be so keei. He has a car that could develop into a race winner. He has the personal backing of the richest man in the world. And he is still very young. Ferrari is Ferrari but not everyone necessarily views it as the most important thing in a career to wear red. Fisi fulfillled his life long dream, but left the sport looking slightly vanquished after grappling with that unruly car. And this year we sense that the Ferrari is not exactly the easiest to get along with. If Perez decided to leave the Slim fold for Ferrari, and ended up looking foolish like all of Alonso’s teammates, bar one, it would have been a massive career error. Look at who Alonso has left bloodied and creeping away looking to repair his reputation. Piquet Jr., Kovalainen, Fisichella, Trulli. All of those guys were very highly rated before they landed on Planet Alonso.

    • Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 17th May 2012, 16:48

      If you can laugh at NH being included in that list then I wonder that you do admire NK, coz you seem fine with NK rather than NH!

      Common man, it’s just a list!

  12. F1antics (@f1antics) said on 17th May 2012, 13:58

    I wouldn’t wish Ferrari on any of the current drivers, especially my favourites. But for those out of the game and needing to get back in, it must surely be a good option. I voted for Sutil – I’d like to see him back in F1.

    • sagar atgamkar (@sagaratgamkar) said on 17th May 2012, 14:00

      i see sutil as an option to replace MS next year. #german

    • Neusalz (@dpod) said on 17th May 2012, 15:25

      I went for Sutil as well. He has displayed very good race pace, qualifying pace and experience. He would be a perfect match for Alonso as I rate Sutil in the top 7 or 8 drivers which would give them the Championship points they need without interfering with Alonso’s race position.

    • George (@george) said on 17th May 2012, 18:19

      Yeah, Sutil would be my second choice after Kubica.

      • Neusalz (@dpod) said on 17th May 2012, 19:19

        I was going to vote for Kubica but I am a bit concerned with the lack of news this past month. If he returned I am sure he would still be one of the best but I would like some news on how he is doing at the moment.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 17th May 2012, 19:10

      I voted for Sutil as well. There have been far more undeserving drivers who have gotten a shot at top teams, instead Sutil has battled it out at the back of the field, and was clearly the class of the midfield in 2010 and 2011. He deserves at least an opportunity to test for Ferrari

    • tomwestin (@tomwestin) said on 18th May 2012, 0:46

      Absolutely Sutil, i tipped him for a ferrari seat while he was in his second season (first year of FIF1), and i think he’d make a good driver there. He did pretty well last year as well, despite setbacks.

  13. sagar atgamkar (@sagaratgamkar) said on 17th May 2012, 13:59

    malaysia was a wet race. lets not forget that. is there is one young driver most consistant, its kaumi. but then again, who ever goes will be a side kick to alonso till the time takes career retirement.

  14. The Limit said on 17th May 2012, 13:59

    Everyone thinks Perez will be a threat if paired with Alonso simply because of what happened five years ago with Lewis Hamilton. For me, that situation will not happen again because Fernando is too powerfull at Ferrari and has the teams backing. He has, lets face it, made their dog of a car look respectable this year and Ferrari and wise enough to realise this.
    Alonso ran foul of McLaren because Hamilton’s success was at the time in Ron Dennis’ best interests as Hamilton was Ron’s up and coming driver. It had nothing to do with Lewis being British but everything to do with lining Ron Dennis’ pocket.
    Personally, I would put Perez in the sister Ferrari.

    • Dorian said on 18th May 2012, 3:04

      Totallly agree mate!!

      2007 wasn’t Alonso’s or Hamilton’s fault – it was Ron Dennis’!!!!!

  15. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th May 2012, 14:02

    I’ve voted Heikki Kovalainen. I’d say Perez, but in my opinion it’s too soon for him as he’s still making some mistakes. He needs to earn his apprenticeship in a lower team where he can improve his driving before the spotlight of being a top team is turned on him.

    I’d love to see Kubica back, but who knows if he’s going to be fit, and he hasn’t driven a wheel in anger in two years now. With the best will in the world, it’s not a chance I would be taking, personally.

    Heikki, while not immediately an obvious choice, has really shown some promise while driving for Loterham. He’s consistently outperformed his teammates, and shown a really solid consistency. He’s also managed to put in great performances despite not being in a good car, in a manner frankly not that unlike Alonso himself. If he’s able to show that level of motivation driving a car which has no hope of driving for points, imagine what he might be able to achieve in a car which could fight for wins. It’d make or break him one way or the other, but I think he’s driving much better than he ever did for McLaren or Renault, and deserves to get a chance at the sharp end of the grid. Let’s face it, out of the options available, he’s one of the few proven race winners.

    • matthewf1 (@) said on 17th May 2012, 14:06

      Loterham lol

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 17th May 2012, 15:30

      He’s also managed to put in great performances despite not being in a good car, in a manner frankly not that unlike Alonso himself…

      …Let’s face it, out of the options available, he’s one of the few proven race winners.

      Yes, one race win where Felipe Massa’s car broke down and Hamilton had a puncture, versus Lewis Hamilton’s 7 race wins in the same car. Basically, I see him as a bit of a Fisichella unless he proves me wrong. Great when there are low expectations, goes missing when there are high expectations.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th May 2012, 15:46

        Perhaps, although I don’t think you can look at the lower points of a driver’s very early career as examples of how good their ultimate potential may be. Some drivers are brilliant out of the box, while others need time to improve. I’d say that while driving towards the back of the field, Heikki has done a lot of maturing and has improved immensely as a driver. He’s taken one of the most useless cars on the grid and generally made the absolute best of it. There’s the possibility that he’d lose that consistency if put into a better car, but I think at the least he’s earned himself the opportunity to show what he can do.

      • socksolid (@socksolid) said on 17th May 2012, 16:47

        It is imho fair to say the Kovalainen’s results at mclaren and renault are not really saying he is top class driver. But his more recent performances at loterham have kind of cleared his name. While at mclaren heikki was constantly beaten by lewis at caterham heikki has done as well as he could have. He has grabbed every opportunity with both hands and is clearly getting much more out the car than his team mates.

        Looking at kovalainen’s future the loterham is clearly a dead end. At best that team can fight at the tail pack of the mid field next year. Scoring points in some races is a possibility. But at the same time the next year could be yet another “not there yet” year. Heikki definitely needs better car and has proven he earns it.

        The ferrari seat is not the dream seat either. You are clear number 2. I do not want to put perez, kamui or kovalainen into that seat. Sutil could do it better and is more inclined to accept such offer as well. Perez and kamui have good car at sauber and lots of years ahead of them. Heikki has really bad car but less years as well. Number 2 driver might pay well for kovalainen but it is also career suicide. I don’t really know what Kovalainen should do but I don’t see ferrari a good option.

      • RaulZ (@raulz) said on 18th May 2012, 14:11

        I think in Renault Kovalainen suffered a very bad car. And in McLaren he suffered the Ron Denis way to understand equality and mates racing. Kovalainen left McLaren saying the same bad things that Alonso argued.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 17th May 2012, 20:20

      @mazdachris I also think that Kovalainen is capable of much more than he can realistically achieve with Caterham but I don’t want him to join Ferrari. I’d rather like to see him with Lotus or Mercedes. I firmly believe he can become a world champion but not with Alonso’s Ferrari. And, even Heikki is never going to reach the DWC heights, I still agree with the saying: It is better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th May 2012, 0:35

      Yes Heikki is also an excellent choice, for the reasons you state.

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