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. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th May 2012, 22:13

    Perez will be the one. He is part of their driver program. It might be a bit early but there’s no unlimited testing anymore so they can’t follow the same route as with Felipe.
    All others are either temporary solutions – because Ferrari Has something to prove with their young driver program, which means: Perez – or just as good as Perez.

  2. rayhart.z99@gmail.com said on 17th May 2012, 22:18

    There is significant history of drivers who have suffered head injury just not being right again. Sterling Moss springs to mind, but he had the very good sense to realise that the game was up and retire before things became embarrasing. Kobayashi would be my fun choice for the second Ferrari seat

  3. Sparckus (@sparckus) said on 17th May 2012, 22:30

    I voted Kubica on the proviso he manages to get close to his pre accident ability, otherwise I’d like to see Heikki in that seat (or any other top drive).

  4. mark (@markp) said on 17th May 2012, 23:36

    Was so impressed with Hamilton in 07 thought he got worse year on year since (got title in 08 though) but this year seems like 07. As a big Ferrari fan above all I say Hamilton. If he beats Alonso then we have someone even better so bring it on.

  5. Cole (@cole) said on 17th May 2012, 23:59

    Hi Keith.

    I`m a big fan of your blog, and always been positive with my comments. By no mean my point is to bring a discussion, but even if I fully agree that Massa is not having his best time in F1, and most likely will loose his seat, I think a debate like this and specially with that headline as if he was already fired is disrespectful in some way.
    I can say that the first guy dissapointed with this situation is Massa himself.
    As a sportsman myself, I know sometimes things don`t go your way and it`s really hard to turn the momentum around, so the best you can do is try as hard as you can. I think Felipe deserves that respect.

    Sincerely, and looking fwd to many great articles and enjoying my time with your wonderful site!

  6. Ken (@myxomatosis) said on 18th May 2012, 0:12

    This is a very mean-spirited exercise.

    • mark (@markp) said on 18th May 2012, 0:28

      To be fare this is what alot of f1 fans are thinking since the last race. Rather than sitting twiddling thumbs thinking this in our heads it makes sense for everyone to let it out. It’s entertaining and thats what F1 is about. Massa is well compensated for this to the tune of 8 million a year. Its part and parcel of being an elite sportsman.

  7. In the end, I voted to keep Massa on. The fact that Ferrari has stood by him and kept him on this long has given me a lot of respect for the team that I might not have had otherwise, and I’d really like to see them continue in that vein and let Massa stay for the rest of this season. If, at the end of the season, he still hasn’t shown improvement, I think even Massa himself might question what he wants to do next. And no one could conceivably accuse Ferrari of not giving him ample chance to recover.

    (At which point, by the way, it might be time to give Perez a try.)

  8. darkenforca (@darkenforca) said on 18th May 2012, 1:36

    Voted Heidfeld.

    I don’t think he’ll be the best candidate for next season, that goes to either Perez or Sutil, but if Ferrari were looking to replace Massa after Monaco, there isn’t too many people they could turn too to replace him and Heidlfeld is one with all the experience.

    He wasn’t as bad as everyone thinks he was last season, his qualifying performances were shocking, yes but his race craft was as good as it ever was.

  9. Kenny (@kenny) said on 18th May 2012, 2:42

    The powers that be in F1 keep saying they need an American driver in the series, and with Austin and Weehawken coming up, now may be the time. Ferrari and Americans have usually worked out well (Hill, Ginther, Andretti). There are plenty to choose from but a combination of relative youth, name, experience, a cool head, and talent is required…Graham Rahal.

  10. tkcom (@tkcom) said on 18th May 2012, 3:52

    Whoever the replacement may be, they better do it NOW for any chance to win WCC. Ferrari should’ve dumped Massa before Mugello so the replacement would have proper track time before the race.

  11. TheNikii (@thenikii) said on 18th May 2012, 7:03

    I don’t think anyone with a midfield or greater race seat would like to drive alongside Alonso. So the best way would be to continue Massa’s endless suffering until he does something about it. With all these different winners it could be his moment as Ferrari predicts any next race.

  12. magon4 (@magon4) said on 18th May 2012, 7:25

    Adrian Sutil all the way. He might even give Alonso a challenge. And he’s not young anymore.

  13. Tyler Wagner (@yuckett1) said on 18th May 2012, 7:33

    I feel bad for Massa, i know he’s not the best driver but he’s definitely not the worst, but i guess that’s what happens when you drive for Ferrari and have Fernando Alonso as your teammate. You just have to live up to the will of the Scuderia or they will replace you faster than their cars can drive.

  14. montreal95 (@montreal95) said on 18th May 2012, 7:40

    Since it’s a poll of who do I think they should take and not who I think they’ll really take I chose Timo Glock. Him being stuck in a pathetic car is a huge waste of talent.

    To those who say Kubica, if you’re Ferrari and after Massa’s performances as they are since his return from injury, would you really take that risk at the moment?

  15. Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 18th May 2012, 9:00

    If you were really, really mean, you might bump poor old Massa out part way through this season (its more or less written of for him and constructor already) and put Kubica in the car for a trial run. If he’s any good, then great, but if not they’ve probably not lost too much for the rest of the year.

    Otherwise, I can imagine Pastor Maldonado being drafted in. Spanish speaking, aggressive and hot-headed at times (Irvine?), ambitious… That money he brings with him would increase if the sponsors thought there was a chance he’d be at Ferrari, and Ferrari wouldn’t just be happy to have that money for themselves: they’d be happy that no-one else had it.

    As for Massa? I have a feeling he’d be offered drives in Ferrari’s sportscar campaigns, alongside Fisichella.

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