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?

  1. tobinen (@tobinen) said on 17th May 2012, 15:57

    I’d have Kovalainen if I was Domenicalli – been in a top team, had a good season last year even if it didn’t show. Far more experience now and I reckon he’s quicker than Massa

  2. The Limit said on 17th May 2012, 16:04

    I am not so sure about Hamilton going to Ferrari. One thing is for sure, McLaren and Hamilton have both suffered since Martin Whitmarsh took over. I have always felt that if Ron Dennis had stayed on at the helm, Hamilton’s career would look alot brighter than it does now.
    Whitmarsh in my eyes is the complete opposite to Dennis. I cannot remember McLaren looking so disorganised as they do now, especially regarding their pitstops. If anything, Red Bull’s pitstops are more McLarenesque than McLaren’s. Red Bull look organised, polished, and know what is needed of them. The same cannot be said of McLaren. Even Jenson Button, a direct result of the Whitmarsh era, has voiced his concerns following recent pitstop woes.
    Pairing Hamilton with Vettel would certainly only increase Red Bull’s profile, Christian Horner has always publically admired Hamilton, and Webber joining Button to me would not be a bad thing. It may well suit all concerned.
    What we must remember is that Ferrari have obviously staked their future on Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa to them is nothing more than a points getter just as Rubens Barrichello was. Hockenheim 2010 springs to mind, and I doubt many of the other drivers have forgotten that in a hurry.
    Red Bull also have Adrian Newey, without doubt the best designer of racing cars alive today, and someone who looks set to stay there. Ferrari don’t have him, just Alonso signed up to a contract that will pretty much end when he is bus pass age.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th May 2012, 16:28

      Yeah I think Hamilton to Red Bull makes sense, if, that is, Red Bull is interested in two WDCs on the team, thus challenging SV. It would be great but I don’t know that I’m going to hold my breath for it. And JB and MW at Mac? Sure… I can see that.

      I still say Hockenheim 2010 was not reminiscent of RB at MS/Ferrari. I believe FM had every opportunity to match FA up until that point, and simply hadn’t done so by the time Ferrari had an opporunity in Germany to see one driver try to reach the 4 cars that were in front of him. Unlike MS, FA was not in a designer car on designer tires with FM contracted to not compete. It just came down to the math. That said, sure I’ll buy that drivers will have not forgotten what they saw at Ferrari in Germany 2010. But I think they will remember it as what can happen to any teammate that lags behind while the other driver has the better chance as the season passes it’s half-way point. If they have Hockenheim 2010 in mind they’ll also remember FM’s vehement response that he was no RB.

      I think the question remains, does Ferrari want to hire a challenger to push FA, as in a WDC level driver, or do they want to hire a potential but unproven WDC, either of them able to help in the WCC, or do they hire someone who is simply there to learn and not make waves under the guise of a young, developing, up and comer that has never been near the front end of the grid and is just honoured/lucky to be in F1 let alone at Ferrari.

  3. Maciek (@maciek) said on 17th May 2012, 16:23

    The best choice for the future of Ferrari – Perez.
    The best choice for calm stability – Kovalainen.
    The most entertaining choice for the rest of us – say it loud, say it strong – Lewis Hamilton.

  4. THOMF1S (@thomf1s) said on 17th May 2012, 16:35

    Hey, whilst we’re throwing every possible name about , Casey Stoner has just announced he is retiring from MotoGP at the end of the season…maybe he could jump into a Ferrari!

  5. Calum (@calum) said on 17th May 2012, 16:38

    I echo the sentiments of Jackie Stewart and Nigel Mansell – get Paul in the Ferrari!

  6. thekingofspa (@) said on 17th May 2012, 16:41

    I now wish I hadn’t blinked while casting my vote.
    I think Ferrari will give Massa a deadline till Hungary, just before the five-week summer break before Spa. If their assessment of Massa is poor, then it will be Sutil in the Ferrari till the end of the season. And for starters Perez needs to begin learning Italian.

  7. Poul said on 17th May 2012, 17:05

    I think Perez is the obvious choice but I have to wonder why Kimi is somehow less of an option than the likes of Karthikeyan or de la Rosa? He got sacked from an under-performing Ferrari before but he certainly proved his worth since then. Not that I think it would ever happen but I don’t see why he would be the very last option.

  8. sagar atgamkar (@sagaratgamkar) said on 17th May 2012, 17:15

    i was thinking about the possibilities of sutil filling in for MS from next year on.

  9. Pelican (@pelican) said on 17th May 2012, 17:22

    If Kubica can come back, he gets my vote in a heartbeat.
    Otherwise, for the rest of the season, Ferrari needs a decent, experienced placeholder with nothing to lose–since the midfield is so competitive this year, most of the talented young drivers are better off staying where they are. So that leaves the drivers recently pushed out: I think Alguesuari would do best, he might not be a Ferrari-grade driver, but he’s good enough. Sutil might be the better driver, but he’s rarely really shone and he’s had enough chances.
    For next year, I think Perez should stay at Sauber–Ferrari doesn’t need to snap up drivers early, they wait till the youngsters have worked out their problems and established themselves, then sign them up. Webber or Rosberg, just for a season or so, would be more likely.

  10. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 17th May 2012, 17:23

    It might be good for Ferrari, but I doubt it would be good for Perez or Di Resta. Being mentally dominated and told to move aside is not where they want to be while they’re still on the way up. Schumi, Vettel, Hamilton etc. never had to endure that, never had their confidence broken. Give Sutil a one year contract, he’ll be fast, but grateful and obliging, then bring Perez in when he’s more ready to take the fight to Alonso. Di Resta should stick with Mercedes

  11. Dizzy said on 17th May 2012, 17:42

    Is Massa really doing as bad a job as the results suggest?

    He’s been fairly consistently within half second of Alonso & considering how good Alonso is I don’t think thats too bad.

    I also think there is an element of Alonso simply outdriving the car while Massa is showing how bad the car really is. The very best drivers often do this & it often makes there team mates look worse than they actually are.

    I also still hink its a bad idea for both team & driver to change drivers mid-year, We saw it in 2009 with Ferrari/Fisichella & Renault/Grosjean.
    If they want to replace Massa then wait untill next year & go with Webber, Perez or Di Resta.

  12. PJA (@pja) said on 17th May 2012, 18:09

    Although I didn’t think that Ferrari would keep Massa for 2013 I didn’t think they would replace him before the end of the 2012 season, however with some of the latest comments from Ferrari and Massa’s continued poor performances I am not so sure he will see out the year with Ferrari.

    Considering what happened with Massa’s replacements in 2009 Ferrari will be wary of changing drivers mid season and I think if this was to happen the most likely candidate would be someone who doesn’t have a race seat at the moment but who has recent F1 experience, such as Sutil or Alguersuari or even Kubica if he was fully fit.

    In this situation I think unless the driver impressed, which would be unlikely given the circumstances, it would only be a short term deal until the end of the year, and in the case of Kubica the main reason would be to see how good a recovery he had made with a view to a contract for next year.

    Waiting until the end of the season to change their line-up makes more sense in that there will be more drivers available to choose from and they can make a better long term decision.

    Ferrari will probably want someone who is a top driver and able to push Alonso but who is also comfortable taking a supporting role and be a team player if they decide to focus all their efforts on one driver.

    Depending on how well they perform this season a number of drivers could find themselves on the shortlist such as di Resta or Hulkenberg but I think the most likely choice will be Perez.

  13. ovviamente (@ovviamente) said on 17th May 2012, 18:14

    Timo Glock, no doubt! I do have my reasons which can be seen here.

  14. Mariano (@mariano) said on 17th May 2012, 18:15

    It would be interesting to replace Massa with Michael Schumacher so to have a chance to listen to a radio message saying “Alonso is faster than you”. Just joking, of course.

    My choice to replace Massa would be Adrian Sutil.

  15. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 17th May 2012, 18:27

    Since Kubica seems to be out of the picture, then I would go with either Perez or Kovalainen. If Kubica was fit, then it would be no contest.

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