Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012

Who should Ferrari replace Felipe Massa with?

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. Fisichella was supposedly an underrated driver and championship material, until Alonso buried him in 2005, and even deeper in 2006.
    Piquet Jr. had a lot of potential until Alonso buried him in 2008-09.
    Grosjean looked very promising based on his junior F1 achievements, until Alonso buried him in 2009. He came back to the sport 3 years later and finally has a bit of credibility.

    Don’t go to Ferrari Checo, he’s evil!

    1. Yes! Take care, Checo!

    2. This is why Ferrari needs to take a driver with nothing to lose, but who still has the skill to avoid embarrass the prancing horse. A professional who will come in, shut up, do his job, and collect his pay.
      Any career asperations will wither in the bright sun of FA.

    3. Well, you have to see it as an oportunity. Imagine how it would be if you win Alonso. hamilton did it. Everybody wants to success in a good car and if you beat Alonso then it’s perfect.

  2. Jules Bianchi

    1. I agree, he damn quick, I think there’s a lot of potential in the Frenchman – but I really want to see more of his FP1 drives before I’m fully certain.
      As for Ferrari though, bringing a new driver to the team, could do Ferrari great credit, showing more confidence in the whole team than they have done for the past few years.
      To me, bringing in an experienced driver alongside Alonso seems silly since even the top drivers would struggle to achieve near his standard straight away, possibly reflecting badly on the driver, the car and/or the team (unlike a new driver who is more like a clean slate).
      Fernando is a clear leader character and I think bringing a new young, quick driver that can learn at that level is key. If he starts too quick we could have a repeat of the ugly McLaren/Hamilton episode and if he isn’t ready it could be the unfortunate Renault/Grosjean situation. I think that level is where Bianchi could be by the end of the season, so it could be a solid move for the short term and long term.
      The seasons still young though and a lot could change between now and then, but at this moment that’s who I favour.

  3. if I were running Ferrari I would seriously consider putting Sutil in there for the rest of this season, possibly kicking him out if he doesn’t perform since many drivers wouldn’t leave mid-season.

  4. I don’t know who they have in mind, whether it be for sometime this season or for 2013, in terms of if they already know they want the best driver they can get to try to challenge and push FA, or they want a relative newby that will be a natural number two to FA. It feels to me like they like FM too much to cut him loose mid-season, and would rather see him starting to do better at Monaco and beyond than have to make a tough decision mid-season. But stranger things have happened. I hope they will seek out a top driver and not a natural number two to FA. I always hope for that on all the top teams. Hated the MS/Ferrari philosophy which was the most extreme example. If they replace FM mid-season it won’t be with a top driver.

    My fantasy option, which I think would be huge for Ferrari and for F1, which struck me when I saw these two drivers having a laugh together at the Ferrari tribute to Gilles, would be to see a return to F1, ala MS, of none other than Jacques Villeneuve.

  5. I would’ve voted for Perez but I don’t think it would be such a good idea at the moment. I think he should stick with Sauber until the end of this year and then consider a move to a bigger team. This is because the Sauber has shown it has clear pace anyway and has the potential to get good results on its own, so moving to a new team and having to adjust to a new car, mechanics, engineers etc would do him more harm than good in my opinion. We’ve seen in the past that drivers who have moved to Ferrari mid season (Badoer and Fisichella being the two most recent examples) have struggled to get used to it in the time needed, so maybe it would be best for him to stay put for the moment, and consider a move in the next year or two.

  6. Paul Di Resta can be a likely candidate. Force India Reserve Jules Bianchi is another Ferrari protege who has performed very well and whome they have publicised well too. To buy Di Resta out of his contract, they may sweeten it for Force India by offering some compensation for Bianchi. Vijay Mallya having a financially embattled airline would be more than happy with this. Though there is a possibility of a Maerceds clause in Di Resta’s contract. Another thing that goes for him is experience of winning championships and moreover beating Vettel as team mate.

    Heikki is OK, but I don’t think he will be in contention considering how woefully short he fell off Hamilton. There chance at top of championship is bleak, but they would want a driver who with Alonso can atleast take them to 2nd or 3rd and not be leapfrogged by French or German teams

    A cheap and effective but temp solution would be Sutil if they want to go there. They may offer him a contract till end of the season. He has been good in a fast car, but may be a little rusty and that may not go in his favor.

  7. Tough one. I really don’t want to see a driver I actually like go and race for Ferrari. Partly because they’re Ferrari, but mainly because I don’t want to see Perez playing second fiddle to anybody, especially Alonso. Genuinely don’t know who to pick.

    1. I’ll vote Perez though, based on who Ferrari should take rather than who I want them to take.

  8. The more fundamental question Ferrari need to ask themselves here is just what sort of team do they want to run?

    Are they intending to build themselves around Alonso with a strong, reliable but generally unthreatening number two as back up? If so, Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen, Timo Glock and (maybe) Vitaly Petrov would fit the bill. As would Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello, but I just can’t see Ferrari bringing back two drivers so clearly past their F1 sell-by dates. Webber has been the subject of recent speculation and he would probably be the best choice for the Scuderia, subject to him being able to rub along with Alonso.

    Are they intending to pick an up and coming young driver, who can be groomed to become Ferrari’s next lead driver after Alonso retires/moves on? If so, the main options would be Sergio Perez, Romain Grosjean, Paul Di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg and, of those, Perez would be the obvious candidate. The only question mark being whether being launched into the spotlight so early in his career would do more harm than good.

    Or are they intending to field the best two drivers they can lay their hands on and give them completely equal treatment, as is the policy at McLaren or (in the glory days, at least) Williams? If so, the main candidates would be Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton. The problem here is that Kubica still hasn’t returned from injury, let alone been able to prove that he’s still something special, and there’s previous between Hamilton and Alonso which makes that pairing highly unlikely.

    1. matthewf1 (@)
      17th May 2012, 14:47

      Petrov lol – hey Fernando, remember the guy who cost you the 2010 title…well….surprise!

  9. I just hope Massa doesn’t read this site. How dispiriting it would be to read a poll nominating your successor!
    @Keith, could you put my name on the list please? It’s the only hope I’ve got!

    1. I imagine he’s pretty inured to it by now. After all how many headlines have there now been linking different drivers to his seat in the past two years? Off the top of my head I can think of Perez, Rosberg, Webber and Button. And I didn’t see this D’Ambrosio one Ferrari mentioned.

  10. I read the question wrong – I thought it was for this year, so I chose to keep Massa. However, I want them to keep him for 2013 (if he performs well this year).

  11. I think it will be perez but I don’t agree with that. I would prefer to see him stay with sauber until at least the end of next season before he is put into fernandos team. In the mean time I think mark webber would be a good fit for a year or so.

  12. Voted Kubica. It’s so obvious for someone from Poland but this the one who I would like to see there and deep inside my I believe that this is already agreed. Of course that’s just me and everyone knows how the situation looks like.

    If Kubica’s return wouldn’t be possible then I would go for Lewis or if not possible Perez.
    In some extend his 2nd place in Malaysia was very similar to Kubica’s first podium at Monza. He really has something special which was obvious in his last GP2 year.
    Felipe needs to be dropped. Ferrari deserves for proper racing driver in that second Ferrari and Massa has lost it two years ago.

    1. I think in a perfect world Maranello would be stupid to not pick up Kubica. Poland and Italy have had long historical ties that would make it a natural choice. Kubica also lived his entire early motorsports life in Italy so again that would make a natural choice. Both 2008 and 2010 were banner years for Kubica taking cars to positions in both qualifying and on Sunday they should have been nowhere near.
      But on the other hand what Massa’s post Hungary rehab period proved that it takes a long time for a driver to gain his confidence back. You can argue he still hasn’t got it back. But since the second half of last year he seems to have given up like Raikkonen in 2008. He feels the team has given up on him.
      But ultimately I don’t Ferrari, both the F1 side and the business men (Di Montezemolo) can afford to wait for Kubica to rehab and hope, I stress HOPE he becomes the same driver again.
      But again in a perfect world it would be awesome to see Alonso and Kubica in the same team its the only combination that can stand up to HAM/BUT, VET/WEB, ROS/DIR and the future Raikkonen, Feliipe Nasr combo.

  13. Massa is managed by Nicolas Todt, son of former Ferrari F1 team principal and current FIA president Jean Todt. So he was not fired in 2011. Nicolas also manages young driver (and Ferrari Academy test driver) Jules Bianchi, who raced in GP2 for Todt’s ART team. Bianchi is currently reserve driver for Force India. Force India recently did a seat fitting & “aero test” with American F3 driver Conor Daly. Maybe Force India have something to do with “Plan B”.
    Ferrari are never going to swap Massa for a back-of-grid driver like Glock. As for the other ‘fantasy’ ideas: Lewis H will never be in a team with Alonso, Kimi R will never drive for Ferrari. Why anyone thinks Adrian Sutil, who assaulted Eric Lux (who bid for the Saab car company with Bernie Ecclestone) will ever turn a wheel in F1 again is a mystery.

  14. marc512 (@)
    17th May 2012, 14:52

    Perez as a young driver, Webber as an experienced driver. both of them would be better than massa.

  15. If Ferrari were/are going to replace Massa they should have done it in the close season, or wait until the end of this year and replace him for 2013. Changing drivers in the middle of the season never works, Fisichella was driving great for Force India in ’09 and then he could barely get out of Q3 in the Ferrari. Last year as well, was Bruno Senna really an improvement on what Nick Heidfeld could have done? If they do parachute someone in they have to give him at least 2013 as well otherwise the entire thing will be pointless. I quite like the idea of Sutil, but he would be at best a stopgap so unless someone like Webber becomes available as an experienced hand for a season its the question of whether they feel Perez is ready. Kubica would be great but its the same issue as with Massa, surely they won’t take that chance again that he is not the same driver.

    I’ve no idea why they didn’t replace Massa for this season. His confidence is shot and he’s never going to be the ’08 version of Felipe again, at least not with Alonso in the other car so they might as well have cut their losses and put someone else in. The sad thing in my opinion is that I think Massa could still do a decent job for a middle team, maybe Williams, Force India or Sauber as he has a lot of experience now, but he just looks tormented at the moment at Ferrari. And the longer he stays there and performs like this the worse his future job prospects will become.

  16. Nick.UK (@)
    17th May 2012, 15:00

    Sutil as soon as possible for the rest of 2012. Perez next year.

  17. Another question is, where would Massa go after Ferrari?

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      17th May 2012, 15:08

      @carbon_fibre Fair point. Maybe a Sauber… they could well have an open seat if he is replaced…

    2. On current form I seriously doubt Massa will be able to find another seat in F1. There are plenty of good drivers who are performing for there not to be a space for him

      I think the best F1 related offer he will receive is that Ferrari will offer him the same sort of test driver role that Badoer and Fisichella currently have, then the question would be would he accept it or instead go and seek a race seat in another series.

      1. I agree with this. Can’t really think of a team who would pick Massa after his recent performances, other than maybe a backmarker.

        McLaren is out of the question, Red Bull is out of the question, Lotus is out since Kimi and Grosjean will probably stay for 2013 as well, Mercedes is out since their future in the sport is uncertain and if they decide to keep going in 2013, Michael will probably retire and they’ll bring Di Resta in, Sauber have Kamui and if Perez goes to Ferrari – Gutierrez, Torro Rosso is an academy driver establishment, Williams have Bottas ready to take a seat next to Maldonado and Force India will probably keep Hulkenberg and throw Bianchi a seat if Di Resta heads to Mercedes etc.

        Maybe, just maybe he would have an option at Caterham as they could use an experienced driver alongside Kovalainen who can help with the development of the car OR he could take a test-driver role at Ferrari and do his part in endurance racing – follow Fisi’s path. However, I don’t think the Ferrari vs. Massa affair will be a good break-up in the end and Massa will run as far away as possible from the Scuderia.

  18. I think if they want two strong drivers they can pick from the following:
    Hamilton, Grosjean, Perez, Kobayashi,Rosberg, kovalainen Kubica

    Whereas if they want a 2nd “support driver” they can pick from:
    Schumacher (sad to say), Webber, Heidfeld

    The rest are either not ready yet, past it or not good enough..
    My pick would be Kubica, they may be fearful of selecting another driver recovering from injury though..

    1. Nick.UK (@)
      17th May 2012, 15:11

      @mw Kubica has openly said though, that if HE himself doesn’t feel 100% as good as he was before his injury then he won’t bother trying to compete in Formula 1 again.

  19. I think Lewis may go there, unlikely though so my guess would be Mark Webber on a 2 year contract which they will buy him out off after 2013 and put Perez in the car. It’s only Sergios 2nd season and i personally think another year at Sauber would do him good. Too soon to jump into all the chaos and pressure of Ferrari next year.

    As for Di Resta, he’s a Merc man isn’t he? more likely to replace Schuey at Mercedes.

  20. I would absolutey love to see Kubica in those red overalls.However with Alonso in the other car it could compromise their strong friendship! In my opinion ,the best option would be Kovalainen.He is fast but bot fast enough to keep up with Alonso and he’s got experience from another top team.

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