Who should Ferrari replace Felipe Massa with?

Debates and polls

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?

  1. sparkus88 (@sparkus88) said on 17th May 2012, 14:50

    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.

  2. Toxic (@toxic) said on 17th May 2012, 14:51

    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.

    • dz06 (@dz06) said on 18th May 2012, 8:24

      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.

  3. G Lees said on 17th May 2012, 14:51

    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.

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

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

  5. safeeuropeanhome (@debaser91) said on 17th May 2012, 15:00

    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.

  6. Nick.UK (@) said on 17th May 2012, 15:00

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

  7. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 17th May 2012, 15:02

    Another question is, where would Massa go after Ferrari?

    • Nick.UK (@) said on 17th May 2012, 15:08

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

    • PJA (@pja) said on 17th May 2012, 18:31

      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.

      • Antonio Nartea (@tony031r) said on 17th May 2012, 22:44

        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.

  8. MW (@) said on 17th May 2012, 15:03

    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..

    • Nick.UK (@) said on 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.

  9. maxthecat said on 17th May 2012, 15:10

    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.

  10. carbon_fibre (@carbon_fibre) said on 17th May 2012, 15:17

    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.

  11. baldgye (@baldgye) said on 17th May 2012, 15:23

    Webber, its not the best choice… but they want Alonso to be the next Schuy so why would they want a young up coming driver who’s going to ‘hamilton’ Alonso again… that’d be the last thing you’;d want to do… so going with someone who can perform, but is more mature and relaxed would only help Ferrari win more constructors titles

  12. Brian @clustr1 said on 17th May 2012, 15:26

    I have to say, to date I have been really impressed with how Ferrari have handled this. After Massa’s accident in Hungary, I was fearful he would never be given ample time to get back into the seat and get comfortable again. At this point though, he has had plenty of time to recover and find his confidence again, so they cannot be faulted for that. I would love nothing more for him to find his form again and challenge for wins, but if they make a change , I cannot be critical of Ferrari.

  13. Ral (@ral) said on 17th May 2012, 15:35

    I’m thinking Glock wouldn’t mind playing second fiddle to Alonso, as long as he gets to drive a car that has a bit of go. He’s looked more frustrated with his current situation than Kovalainen has, so that’s why I voted for him.

  14. Jorge Lardone (@jorgelardone) said on 17th May 2012, 15:36

    Barrichelo. They need another obedient driver alongside king Alonso (remember what happen at Maclaren with Hamilton, Alonso was furious because a rookie was better than him and that cost 100.000.000 millions to the team).
    Marrichelo was obediente when Schumacher was number 1 driver, but is a very good driver and can get many points for Ferrari.

  15. Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th May 2012, 15:52

    I picked Kubica, but it’s just my wish. I think Alguersuari or Kovalainen or Glock or Webber or Sutil are much prefered. I think what Ferrari want is interim solution so it shouldn’t be very young gun or very talented one. I think older one would be favored. I guess Sutil or Alguersuari for the rest of the year and in 2013? I don’t know. I’ll buy Kubica if he’s available. I’m sure he would not this year but who knows?

    Also I think Ferrari should hurry to change Massa ASAP. I mean as fast as Canada if not Monaco.

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