Who will be Alonso’s next Ferrari team mate?

2013 F1 season

Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 2012Another crucial part of the 2013 F1 driver line-up was settled yesterday when Ferrari announced they would retain Felipe Massa for 2013.

But with Massa only securing a one-year extension on his Ferrari contract, the decision about the long-time future of their line-up has merely been postponed for another 12 months.

What sort of team mate do Ferrari want for Fernando Alonso? Here’s a look at the prominent choices.

Massa: A stopgap?

Ferrari’s decision to retain Massa for 2013 was a long time coming. They waited until after their original option on his contract expired.

Promising young drivers such as Sergio Perez were spurned on the grounds of having “too little experience”. Perez, of course, was eventually taken up by no less a team than McLaren.

Massa has belatedly upped his game in recent races. In Japan he finished on the podium almost two years to the race since his last top-three finish in the 2010 Korean Grand Prix. The single podium Massa has achieved since then compares to the 20 Alonso has racked up, including four wins.

Massa’s points tally as a proportion of Alonso’s has steadily fallen since their first season together in 2010. It was 57% that year, 45% in the next, and so far this year Massa has just 38% of Alonso’s points haul.

To put that into perspective, Mark Webber had a difficult season alongside Sebastian Vettel last year, yet still scored 65% of Vettel’s tally.

It’s clear that Massa’s performance is in decline. How far Ferrari are prepared to tolerate that depends on what role they expect him to play.

The Vettel rumours

Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Hockenheim, 2012On the eve of last season Red Bull announced a contract with Vettel which would keep him at the team until the end of 2014. However Helmut Marko subsequently revealed Vettel has a performance clause in the contract which could allow him to leave early.

The rumours about Vettel potentially moving to Ferrari began in June. They resurfaced on Monday when the BBC claimed a deal had been done for 2014.

Vettel already has as many world championships as Alonso. Given Red Bull’s performance in recent years, were he to arrive at the team in 2014 he might already have three or even four world championships to Alonso’s two and a tally of victories that also outstrips Ferrari’s incumbent driver.

Clearly, Vettel would be a vastly more competitive team mate than Massa. And it would be a surprise to see Ferrari buck their trend of preferring drivers who fall into clear ‘number one’ and ‘number two’ roles.

Luca di Montezemolo insisted that policy was not changing when he dismissed the Vettel story on Monday: “I don?t want to have two roosters in the same henhouse, rather two drivers who race for Ferrari and not for themselves. I don?t want problems and rivalries.”

But not everyone at Ferrari necessarily shares this view. A question using a similar phrase was put to team principal Stefano Domenicali four months ago. He was asked whether Vettel could only join Ferrari after Alonso had left because “two cocks cannot live in the same hen house”.

Domenicali replied: “I think they are both intelligent guys and they could easily coexist together.” Not exactly singing from the same sheet as Montezemolo. And not a view Ferrari tried to downplay or hush up – they reported it on their own website.

It would be an inspiring and very special sight to see Ferrari put two of F1’s greatest talents in their 2014 cars. The ‘clear number one’ policy has failed to yield a championship for Ferrari’s drivers or a constructors’ title for the team in the last three seasons, nor will it this year as things stand. Perhaps Ferrari are beginning to realise it’s time for a change of approach?

Hulkenberg to join ‘Ferrari B-team’

Nico H???lkenberg, Fernando Alonso, Interlagos, 2010There are several reports claiming Nico Hulkenberg will leave Force India for Sauber next year.

On the face of it this seems like something of a sideways move, even if Force India are behind Sauber in the constructors’ championship at the moment.

But the recent news about Vijay Mallya’s financial situation does not inspire confidence in the long-term prospects of the team. Whereas Sauber appear to be going from strength to strength as they rebuild following the BMW era.

Perhaps most significantly, it means a move from Mercedes to Ferrari power for Hulkenberg, and a move to a team where Massa served his F1 apprenticeship before becoming a Ferrari driver.

It indicates Ferrari may have their sights on a different German driver to join them in 2014.

A door opens for Bianchi

By vacating a seat at Force India, Hulkenberg could create an opportunity for Ferrari Development Driver Jules Bianchi to land an F1 race seat.

Bianchi was quickest in all three days of the recent Young Drivers’ test at Mugello, two of which he spent at Ferrari, one at Force India.

He has driven the VJM05 on eight occasions in 2012. And he has just taken over the lead of the Formula Renault 3.5 championship, which will be decided in Spain this weekend.

Is Bianchi a Ferrari driver of the future? It’s much too early to say. As their handling of Perez showed, it’ll take a few years of him racing in F1 before they’re prepared to make that call.

More 2013 driver market moves

Esteban GutierrezSauber are already losing Sergio Perez to McLaren next year, and there are rumours Kamui Kobayashi may follow him out of the door.

Kobayashi is in his third full season with the team and achieved his first podium finish in Japan last week. But he has been out-performed by the less experienced Perez, who has already appeared on the podium three times.

Kobayashi’s lack of financial backing may swing the decision, which would be a terrible shame for him, the sport and its ever-diminishing connection to Japan.

Perez’s place at the team may be taken by another Escuderia Telmex-backed driver, Esteban Gutierrez. A fellow Mexican, Gutierrez won the inaugural GP3 championship in 2010.

A haul of just 15 points in his first season of GP2 didn’t do justice to the promise he showed while partnering the more experienced Bianchi. But the high hopes many had of him for this season were not realised as he dropped out of contention for the championship following a series of mistakes.

Gutierrez is Sauber’s test driver and drove for them in the last two Young Drivers’ Tests. However he is yet to make an appearance for them at an F1 race weekend.

When Perez withdrew from last year’s Canadian Grand Prix due to injury, Gutierrez missed out on his chance to drive the car, the opportunity going to Pedro de la Rosa instead.

Over to you

Can Massa hang on to a Ferrari seat beyond 2013? Will Ferrari ever choose “two roosters” and sign Vettel?

Is Hulkenberg being groomed for a Ferrari future? And who else might be a candidate?

Have your say in the comments.

2013 F1 season


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Image ?? Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Red Bull/Getty images, Williams/LAT, GP2/Alastair Staley/LAT

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89 comments on Who will be Alonso’s next Ferrari team mate?

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  1. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 17th October 2012, 13:21

    Ooh I love these juicy articles. I personally think they have a pre-contract agreement, based on performance clauses – ie Vettel has first dibs on the Ferrari, given that it can produce X wins, Y podiums, and is not more than Z points off the WCC lead. Personally I think with all the Hulkenberg rumors earlier in the year, he’s been shafted to Sauber as the Ferrari B-team, and Hulkenberg could very well be Plan B if Plan A (Vettel) fails to materialise.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th October 2012, 13:31

      also we should think about Red Bull contract. Marko said there’s performance clause but I can’t see Red Bull struggling in 2013 even though they can’t win both championship. Unless that clause means 1) Red Bull should win WCC 2) Vettel should win WDC, I don’t think early expire is possible. Well, another possibility is something like Santander-Alonso project but I don’t know Vettel has such massive sponsorship…

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 17th October 2012, 13:34

        @eggry I don’t think it would be along the lines of “Vettel must win blablabla” – I think the option is probably on Vettel’s end, and would be “Red Bull must blablabla”

        Perhaps Red Bull will take Santander’s place as the big bucks Ferrari sponsor? :P Boy that would be weird…

        • Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th October 2012, 13:39

          @raymondu999 surely it would be Vettel’s end. but What exactly is it? Red Bull should produce championship winning car? It’s unlikely even with Adrian’s miracle. I don’t think anything other than ‘disastrous season’ which is unlikely would breach the contract. but stranger things have happened.

          Ah I should say Red Bull sponsorship for Ferrari is interesting idea :D

          • Mads (@mads) said on 17th October 2012, 16:40

            @eggry

            I don’t think anything other than ‘disastrous season’ which is unlikely would breach the contract.

            I think so too.
            I mean, if Vettel can really leave as long as they don’t win, at least one of the championships, would mean that Vettel can pretty much leave as soon as the team just hits a bump in the road. I doubt RB would agree to that.
            Maybe he can just leave if RB is out of the WCC and WDC (with either driver) X number of races before the end of the season. Or if they can’t win races.
            But I doubt that Vettel can jump ship now. I just can’t see any performance related criteria they would not have fulfilled so far this year.

        • Why would Red Bull sponsor a rival team whilst they still had a team of their own, a team which surely shows no signs of disappearing any time soon, and certainly not in the next 2 years.

          They pulled all their sponsorship from Sauber the year they entered F1, a partnership that had lasted 10 years.

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 17th October 2012, 13:33

      In addition, I think with Lewis off to Mercedes in 2013, by the time 2014 comes, if Vettel- Alonso comes to fruition, we will have 2 triple champions, or perhaps one double and one quadruple.

      It would potentially be a fractious relationship IMO. On the basis of this year, 2013 could be a showdown between Vettel-Alonso, a repeat of the 1998-2000 Hakkinen/Schumacher showdown. Emotions run high in this sport, and if they’re fighting tooth and nail in 2013, I’m not sure that the atmosphere between the two would be very conducive to a working environment in 2014.

      Hiring Vettel to partner Alonso would be against the Ferrari tradition of a clear hen and rooster driver lineup. However I’m not too sure on this. Think back to 2009 when they announced Alonso would replace Kimi Raikkonen. At that point in time Felipe Massa was a very good driver, putting in top drives in 2009 despite his car. Given what had transpired the year before, indeed 2009 he could have been driving as the reigning world champion.

      I wonder – did they predict Massa’s slump in form back then? If not – and I have no reason to suspect they did, given their joy at his good performances in the first few races of 2010 – then they had every intention of pairing two roosters in the same henhouse.

      On the other hand I feel anyone always has to be wary of their job security at Maranello. Montezemolo has shown in the past that he isn’t shy of ousting people as an almost knee-jerk reaction, as shown with replacing Schumacher for Raikkonen in 2006, and then replacing Raikkonen for Alonso in 2009.

      Should Alonso fail to win the 2012 and 2013 titles, I don’t think it’s a big stretch of the imagination to see Montezemolo ousting Alonso for Vettel.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th October 2012, 13:43

        did they predict Massa’s slump in form back then?

        Good point. I think what Ferrari wanted was Good old Massa and Alonso duo, not underachieving Massa we have seen 2.5 years. Still, Massa is Massa. He never made a friction in the team with Schumacher and Kimi. so I think Massa was Plan B for the WDC and Alonso is clear priority. I don’t think this approach can be applied to Vettel-Alonso combination but who knows…

      • nidzovski (@nidzovski) said on 17th October 2012, 21:11

        Good point, but I think that Massa surprised Ferrari with his form in 2008 and also Alonso was a done deal much earlier, that is why they never left there two roosters policy.

      • I think Ferrari will keep Massa for 2014 too, and continue signing 1-year contract with him unless he beats Alonso next year.

        Massa has responded very well to the pressure of not having a contract, with his best driving reserved for the latter part of the season. So perhaps having a hungry Massa driving for next years contract is the right way to go to motivate him properly. Who knows..

        I don`t consider Massa to be a pushover, if the car is to his liking he will give Alonso a tough time any day of the week. Seeing Massa in the last couple of races reminded me of Massa before the accident. He was a serious contender for the championship back then and might very well be a contender again in the future.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 17th October 2012, 15:41

      I think you are spot on there @raymondu999

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th October 2012, 16:23

        I don’t think Ferrari thinks of, nor thought of in 2010, FM as a rooster while going up against FA. I think they fully expected that FA was their new hope and even though by mid-season FM’s math wasn’t too bad, the Red Bulls were just too strong, and FA’s math was better than FM’s, such that FM ended up with a team order, and we have been thinking of FM as FA’s lapdog ever since. FA was the new guy on the team in 2010 and FM should have had the upper hand given all the data they had on him and all his experience with his crew on the team, yet FA was still able to do enough to warrant a team order mid-season. They didn’t hire FA so FM could win the WDC.

      • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 17th October 2012, 19:37

        Why thank you @BasCB

    • Kimi4WDC said on 17th October 2012, 23:48

      It’s more likely to be in this region:

      “If Alonso does not produce title with in 3-4 years, another world champion can come on board”.

  2. duncanmonza (@duncanmonza) said on 17th October 2012, 13:23

    I doubt they’ll ever have two roosters. They usually go for experienced drivers, I think they will get either Kovalainen or Glock alongside Alonso until he retires before re-signing Perez.
    Or they’ll sign Vettel in 2014…

    • Coanda (@ming-mong) said on 17th October 2012, 14:37

      Kovalainen is deserved of a top drive. Not sure if its Ferrari. He was hard done by in McLaren as they clearly favoured Hamo and most of the time they would fat fuel him on one stop strategies to hedge there bets. I’m glad the rules have changed.

    • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 17th October 2012, 19:32

      I think rooster can apply to character and skill.
      Hamilton-Alonso? 2 roosters on both.
      Vettel-Alonso? 1 rooster by character, 2 by skill.

  3. Eggry (@eggry) said on 17th October 2012, 13:26

    The ‘clear number one’ policy has failed to yield a championship for Ferrari’s drivers or a constructors’ title for the team in the last three seasons, nor will it this year as things stand. Perhaps Ferrari are beginning to realise it’s time for a change of approach?

    Well, It’s true Massa’s disappointing 2 and half years ruined Ferrari’s WCC chances. but I don’t think Vettel could do anything better than Alonso about WDC, even if he had been Ferrari driver from 3 years ago. If they are in opposite position, how would F1 looks so different from now. Maybe not much except 3 or 4 titles for Alonso and 0 or 1 for Vettel?

    Anyway, I don’t know LdM thinking about Vettel but if Ferrari makes contract with Vettel sooner or later, it doesn’t mean changing approach. What should be changed is Ferrari’s engineering.

  4. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 17th October 2012, 13:26

    Ferrari’s failure to win titles is not due to driver policy. You can’t blame Alonso for the car being not fast enough nor can you assume that two drivers of similar caliber would fare any better in machinery being clearly inferior to Red Bull or Brawn. McLaren with their ‘two champions’ policy didn’t win it either and Red Bull clearly favoring Vettel seems to get it right. Paraphrasing mr. Helmut Marko, in Newey’s miracle cars even Webber can win GP’s. Had Ferrari constructed a championship winning car, they would have won the championship, regardless of the other driver being clearly behind the number one.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th October 2012, 14:06

      @cyclops_pl

      Red Bull clearly favouring Vettel seem to get it right

      I don’t agree with that view.

      At the time of writing Weber is 63 points behind Vettel with 100 left to be won. Were he to win the remaining four races Vettel would only need fourth places to stay ahead.

      Yet Red Bull still say they will not impose team orders on Webber.

      Whereas Ferrari had Massa make way for Alonso in Italy and back off from getting too close to him in Korea despite him still mathematically being in contention.

      Red Bull let their drivers fight to the end in 2010 and won both titles. They won both titles last year as well, and are leading both at the moment. Of course that’s not just down to the policy of how they manage their drivers, but it’s certainly not because they impose the kind of team orders on Webber that Ferrari do on Massa.

      • Coanda (@ming-mong) said on 17th October 2012, 14:25

        They may not be as blunt as Ferrari however RBR have clearly shown favouritism towards Vettel over the last few years. A few that come to mind are the Silverstone wing switch in 2010, Telling Mark to back off & not push Vettel in Silverstone 2011 (team order), Helmut Markos public comments suggest Vettel is a quicker driver in 2009 after winter testing, Christian Horners public comments regarding the rumours that Hamo would not be a good team mate for Vettel & suggesting Mark like Massa is a perfect number two & not to mention the demoralising 1 year deals they have offer him. Even Mark has criticised the team on more than one occasion as treating him as a # 2 driver… I am sure there is a lot more that goes on behind close doors.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th October 2012, 15:57

          I am greatly encouraged by Keith’s implication that there is a healthy rivalry at Red Bull, even if I’m not 100% convinced. But Webber did go on and win the ‘winggate’ race, and imho he could have sought out a different ride if it was so bad for him aside SV, and I don’t think we have heard him grumble since winggate, have we?

          I think if FA were to win the next race and SV dnf, I would expect after that to see a team order for MW to not take points from SV, and I think that would be fair and understandable even for MW to appreciate such that an order shouldn’t even need to be given depending on the circumstances, given that I believe MW has had a fair shot this year (rear diffuser now not nearly helping SV and hindering MW like last year) and his math just isn’t as strong, and is not likely strong enough for the remainder of the year.

        • Kimi4WDC said on 17th October 2012, 23:52

          Mark got no one else to blame for 2012, he spun in Korea, no one pushed him. Also his starts, he had now plenty of time to fix that, change the engineer or whatever, he choose to stick with it.

        • Of course Red Bull have favoured Vettel, how could they do otherwise. When Vettel is on song and has the upper hand, Red Bull is on song and crush the opposition. When Webber is performing better than Vettel Red Bull is usually further back on the grid.

          Vettel`s got more potential than Webber any day of the week, if Red Bull can make it work for Vettel they`ll win race after race after race. If Red Bull make it work for Webber they`ll win some races but will be unable to separate themselves from the pack. It really is that simple.

          I don`t think it`s a concious choice made by Red bull, it`s just one of those inevitable things that happen as the season goes on. Every single member of the Red Bull team has known for the last 3,5 years that Vettel is their best chance of winning the WDC. Even back in 2010 when Webber had more points towards the end of the season one just knew Vettel was faster and was only behing because of a bunch of mechanical failures. If Vettel and Webber went toe to toe for the championship 10 times i reckon Vettel would win 8 or 9 of them.

      • Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 17th October 2012, 16:32

        @keithcollantine
        I hope Webber will be leading Vettel in India, so we’ll see how thing really are. It’s easy for Horner to say that they won’t impose team orders as long as there isn’t a situation in which it would benefit them. Words don’t mean anything, unless you think Ferrari was just encouraging Massa to speed up in Germany 2010.

        Since the start of 2010 season, Webber has finished (one place) ahead of Vettel four times, whereas Vettel has finished ahead of Webber twelve times. Massa has finished (one place) ahead of Alonso twice, whereas Alonso has finished ahead Massa four times.

        So if there are any major differences in their team order policy, it doesn’t show up in the results. Whether it’s because RBR are more subtle when it comes to favoring their number one driver, or because Vettel is naturally beating Webber anyway and Massa hasn’t been near Alonso lately – it’s hard to say. But judging team order policies of Ferrari and RBR only by looking at their public comments is a bit naive.

      • no keith.

        ‘no need to worry about mark’ radio message to seb said it all.

        understandable at this stage of the season, but obvious vettel is the man there as is alonso at ferrari

      • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 18th October 2012, 2:05

        @keithcollantine

        I think the key difference between Ferrari imposing team orders and RBR “allowing” their drivers to race each other is that..Massa’s has not shown any pace whatsoever until the last couple races. whereas Webber has won two races, and frequented the podium regularly. So what would you do as team boss? Logically, by the time Italy came along, even if hell froze over, Massa was not going to win the championship, because he hadn’t given any indication that he was able to challenge at the front this year.

  5. the_sigman (@sigman1998) said on 17th October 2012, 13:32

    Massa until 2014 or 2015 and then Bianchi, who will have 2 seasons driving for Force India.

  6. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th October 2012, 13:34

    I think the performance of Massa over the next 12 months will be key to how things will unfold in 2014. When you look at his performance over the past few years, Ferrari have clearly had very solid grounds for letting him go, and yet they have chosen not to. Yes, each time he’s been in trouble he’s managed to string a few decent performances together which have helped to save his bacon, and yet it has to be said that there is clearly more to the decision to keep re-signing him than his performance alone. Only Ferrari truly know their reasoning here, but it’s not difficult to work out that a certain sense of sentimentality, combined with a desire to keep the team stable will have played their part. Let’s not forget, the Scuderia have had their own problems to think about as well. They haven’t come up with a truly competitive car since 2009, and have been relying on one of the sport’s biggest talents to make up for their own performance shortfall. Yes, Massa has failed to deliver to the car’s potential, yet it has to be taken into account that the potential of that car has certainly been far short of what Ferrari should be rolling out each year.

    Could Vettel join Ferrari? Well, very possibly, maybe even probably. But in 2014, I remain very sceptical. He may well have a clause in his contract relating to the performance in 2013, however that clause will almost certainly be based around a lack of competitiveness, and it’s very hard to see Red Bull having an uncompetitive season in 2013 given the relative stability in the rules. Of course, it’s hardly without precedent that a driver has left a team while still under contract. It happened with Kimi Raikkonen, after all.

    One thing is clear – Ferrari will have plenty of very talented drivers who will be more than happy to take a seat alongside Alonso in 2014. It’ll be up to them to decide whether they want someone who is going to fall naturally into the number 2 slot, or adopt a more McLaren-esque approach of having two top level drivers. They would do well to remember that the last time they won a championship it was while they had two very competitive drivers. But ultimately how they approach this problem will determine who they choose to replace Massa. That’s if they decide to replace him at all..

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th October 2012, 15:28

      Hey @mazdachris …me again, lol. I think your comment is well worded and fair. I have no issues with it. And please see my final comment from our great debate.

      My comment regarding Keith’s article… he said, “It’s clear that Massa’s performance is in decline. How far Ferrari are prepared to tolerate that depends on what role they expect him to play.”

      And Mazdachris, you said, “When you look at his performance over the past few years, Ferrari have clearly had very solid grounds for letting him go”

      I think we are all clear that FM’s fate is in Ferrari’s hands. For me, I think it is unfair to judge FM’s performance as declining like he himself has passed his prime and no longer knows how to get a car around the track quickly, when LdM has just reiterated it isn’t his role to be a problem or a rival to FA. That’s the crux of the big problem I have with a clear number 1 and number 2 other than as the season winds down and the math dictates it. We don’t know the true potential of the number 2 when it is engrained in him that he is not there to be a rival. And we don’t know if, along with the declining percentage of points FM has vs. FA over the last 3 years, has been an equal increase in the tuning of the car, and especially including the radical change in it from last year to this, toward FA’s likings, disregarding FM’s for the most part. I think that is highly likely. Especially when you look at how much FM struggled for more than the first half of this season.

      We have certainly seen FM nearly win a WDC, and of course not as a clear number 1 on the team. We have all applauded him for coming back from his injury and were all behind him when he finally showed he seemed to be back to form after said accident. So I think for sure he is still no slouch behind the wheel. Recent races have shown that too.

      I think it is much more fair to FM to appreciate the atmosphere he has been in for the last 3 years, including the highly debated team order midway through 2010, and including that they made a radical change to the Ferrari that to this day even FA continues to deal with and not dominate with, and also appreciate how the tires affected this season with it’s multiple winners and a ‘tire lottery’ debate. The cliff effect of them etc. The concept that one Sunday a team is on fire, another Sunday the tires catch them out and see them look like they have lost their way.

      Bottom line for me…after observing Ferrari for the last couple of decades and their motis operandi, and after reading LdM’s words of recent days, I see no reason whatsoever to think that we will see SV alongside FA. I will be hugely pleasantly shocked and thrilled if it happens though. I just think everything indicates there is no way. And what a shame. What a show it would be. And meanwhile I see no reason to run FM into the ground for underperforming when he is there to do just that. At least relative to FA.

      So I think it is disingenuine for Ferrari to claim to expect more from him, like that is their focus, while not giving him all the tools, including the mental ones. Upon quoting LdM’s recent comments, Keith said, regarding what it meant for FM…”ouch.” For me, it’s kind of like, ‘the beatings shall continue until moral improves.’

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th October 2012, 15:37

        Just wanted to add…isn’t it kind of funny/ironic (unless you’re FM of course) that it has come from ‘speed up FM, your job is on the line’ to ‘slow down FM, you’re too close to FA.’

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 17th October 2012, 16:00

        I don’t think you should ever read too much into anything Di Montezemolo says, especially when it comes to Felipe Massa. This whole thing gives me a sense of Déjà vu – I’m sure it was around this time last year we were all sitting here scratching our heads wondering why he’d been re-signed for 2012. Luca’s comments at the time effectively said that Ferrari expected Massa to be back to his old pre-2009 self during the 2012 season. A comment which seemed rather unlikely at the time, and seemed to imply that this is what was expected of Massa otherwise he’d be turfed out at the end of 2012. However, in the event, Massa has actually been worse in 2012 than he has been in 2011.

        Second driver status is one thing, but when your star driver wins a race, you want your number two to be finishing on the podium with him, not scrabbling around in the midfield desperately trying to score the odd few points. Despite what seemed at the time like a pretty clear statement from Di Montezemolo that they expected better things from Massa otherwise he’d be out, clearly he’s not only failed to find his 2008 form, he’s actually been even poorer than he was in 2011. Extending his contract for 2013 then can’t really be seen as a purely logical decision based on performance targets. I’m sure the last four races where Massa has shown some improvement will have helped, of course, but to me there seems to be more to it than that.

        What I mean is, I don’t think Massa is being kept on because he’s a good number 2 driver, because frankly he hasn’t been a good number 2 driver at all. Had he performed better, then not only would Ferrari have been higher up the WCC standings in both 2011 and 2012, arguably Alonso would still be leading the WDC since Massa would have been taking valuable points away from Alonso’s rivals. As a number 2 then, he’s badly underperformed and his underperformance will very possibly have cost Ferrari at least one championship, maybe more. But here’s the point I’m getting at; you can’t take what Luca says as being definitive because as this example shows, he’s got a history of saying one thing yet doing another. He may say that he doesn’t want two roosters in his henhouse, but I wouldn’t take that to mean he definitely won’t be looking to have just that in 2014 or beyond. It’s little more than a PR statement, trying to justify keeping an underperforming driver in their team, much to the bafflement of the watching world.

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th October 2012, 17:14

          Ok so if we are going to say don’t trust what LdM says, then perhaps he wasn’t being genuine when he said he expected FM in 2012 to be back on his 2008 form. He certainly must have felt that even if FM did that he would be no match for FA. I know I wasn’t scratching my head at all to hear that FM would still be partnering FA in 2012. I was expecting it. It’s the team’s motis operandi and FM is engrained (has been since mid-2010 or earlier) to be a clear number 2. And I think there’s a good chance LdM knew the 2012 car would be radically different and geared toward FA’s likings.

          So I don’t think LdM really has expected a ton from FM, even though he has tried to sound like it. I do agree that the ideal scenario as you point out, and what LdM certainly could have hoped for, was for FM to always finish ideally one spot behind FA, to maximize WCC points and rob points from FA’s competitors. But when your clear number 2 is engrained not to be a ‘problem or a rival’ then I think that sets him up to finish much further back than FA more often than not. It would be almost uncanny for a clear number 2 to have the same motivation and take the same personalized-for-FA car and consistantly place within a stone’s throw of a clear number 1 proven 2-time WDC.

          So is FM really to be blamed and criticized for unperforming, or were the odds always greater that that would happen, than to see him be a strong number 2 but not a bother. LdM must take some of the blame for FM’s form this year, for setting his team up thus, which is what I think is the ‘more to it than that’ that you speak of Mazdachris.

          “Extending his contract for 2013 then can’t really be seen as a purely logical decision based on performance targets. I’m sure the last four races where Massa has shown some improvement will have helped, of course, but to me there seems to be more to it than that.” I think there is more to it…I think LdM doesn’t really need to see a ton more from FM in spite of what he implied earlier in the year. And I think with his philosophy going forward, if he replaces FM for 2014 he’s got to find a new co-operative number 2 that might somehow put himself somewhere between an FM of this year up until recent days, and FA as clear number 1. LdM doesn’t want rivalries, but that’s not to say his philsophy doesn’t come with problems.

          And if you are right and somehow in 2014 FA has a legitimate teammate with a legitimate shot from race one of the season, that would be more than fantastic. I’ll have to see it to believe it though. I don’t get the vibe that LdM feels he has to justify keeping an underperforming driver on the team. He kept EI and RB on the team year after year to take a beating from MS, didn’t he? All quality WDC level drivers in that era that were asked about going to Ferrari said they would have no problem taking on MS in an equal car…they just couldn’t trust that that would happen. Oh they’d be driving the same car as MS all right…one build for MS not them.

          Why should Vettel trust it would be different for 2014 after hearing/reading LdM’s recent quotes? And why would he leave a winning team to go to a non-winner. Unless of course there were some huge incentives ala MS/Ferrari. And those wouldn’t include a 2-time WDC, engrained at Ferrari, as a teammate.

          • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 17th October 2012, 18:07

            Extending his contract for 2013 then can’t really be seen as a purely logical decision based on performance targets. I’m sure the last four races where Massa has shown some improvement will have helped, of course, but to me there seems to be more to it than that.

            Meanwhile in 2025 – Mark Webber and Felipe Massa extend their contract with Red Bull and Ferrari for one more year. :D

        • Anthony_MR (@anthony_mr) said on 17th October 2012, 20:24

          I think Felipe has some pictures of LdM in some compromising positions!

  7. I’m still convinced that Vettel will be in a Ferrari in 2014. As well as Massa has done in the last few races, his early season form was atrocious. In my opinion, the only reason they’d retain him is as a stop gap for Vettel in two years time.

    …and… who’s to say Alonso will definitely be there in 2014? I know he has a contract, but then, so does Vettel at Red Bull… (this isn’t a serious prediction – just to spark a new thought…!)

  8. magon4 (@magon4) said on 17th October 2012, 13:36

    Vettel is less favored at RB than Alonso at Ferrari. Much less, even.

  9. Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 17th October 2012, 13:37

    It’s unlikely that Vettel will join Alonso at Ferrari. Ferrari have always had one lead driver and one support driver – Schumacher and Irvine, Schumacher and Barrichello, Alonso and Massa. And for want of a better term, Vettel and Alonso are both “alpha drivers”, in that both will settle for nothing less than the lead driver role, and the preferential treatment that it entails. Improbable, then, that Vettel and Alonso will be able to coexist in the same roost.

    It’s also unlikely that Ferrari will go after Jules Bianchi. For the past twenty years, Ferrari have never hired rookies with less than two prior seasons in F1 (at least, if I have my facts correct). Their skepticism of Raikkonen in the 2000s, and now Perez, says about as much. In all likelihood, as good as he is, Bianchi will have to join another outfit (possibly Sauber?) to cut his teeth before Ferrari will be willing to let him jump aboard.

    As it stands, Hulkenberg is probably Ferrari’s best prospect for replacing Massa in 2014. By then, he will have had three seasons worth of experience. He’s been generally impressive in the Force India this year, and if the rumors of his move to Sauber are true, he’s in a good position to graduate up.

    So unless Ferrari buck the trend that they have followed for the past twenty years and show a major change in their hiring methodology, my wager is on Alonso and Hulkenberg for 2014.

  10. I personally think that keeping Massa on is a bad decision by ferrari. Montezemalo said recently he doesn’t want 2 roosters in the hen house. What happens if Massa’s return to form continues? And really continues and he is a title challenger next year? What do they do in 2014? “Oh thanks for winning the world championship, but we don’t want two of them so goodbye.”? Bad move which may not pay off in my opinion.

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 17th October 2012, 16:11

      I think it is obvious by now that they didn’t hire FA so that FM could win the WDC. I think that FM will find himself next year with a car that has taken more steps toward suiting FA better so I think the odds are better that FM will start off the year on his hind foot again vs. FA.

      If somehow FM started to outdo FA, they might have to detune his engine or something like that. If he were to somehow utterly dominate FA, they might not be able to do much that wouldn’t be blatantly obvious, so they might have to let it happen. But I think the odds are very slim. FA is the better driver. FA will in all probability have a car better suited for him than it suits FM, at least for a while until FM adapts. And…there is no guarantee that in replacing FM, his replacement doesn’t somehow fluke into a package that he absolutely loves and starts to outdo FA…but then they would have to detune him physically and mentally toward the LdM philosophy. Again, they aren’t hiring FM or imho someone akin to him for 2014, to have 2-time WDC FA play subservient. They’ll see to that not happening.

  11. Ferrari Foresight said on 17th October 2012, 13:46

    Anyone who thinks that Vettel will move to Ferrari while Alonso is still there is just kidding themselves. It makes no sense for anyone concerned. It has never suited Alonso to have a competitive team-mate – they have to be totally supine or else it’s toys-out-of-the-pram time. Why would Vettel go from being a probably triple world champion no. 1 at Red Bull, to being Alonso’s bag-carrier at Ferrari? And why would Ferrari, whose whole philosophy is driven by a clear separation between no. 1 and no.2 drivers, rock their boat with a clash of the egos?

    No, Massa is a stopgap until a better no. 2 comes along – probably Webber, possibly Hulkenberg. The other, more intriguing possibility, is that Alonso will be dropped – especially if he fails to win the WDC before his contract ends. In this case, Vettel would be his replacement, not his team-mate.

    • Anthony_MR (@anthony_mr) said on 17th October 2012, 20:26

      Webber had his chance to drive for Ferrari next year and he turned them down, signed for RedBull for 1 more year. Why would he sign for them in 2014 instead?

      • Drop Valencia! said on 17th October 2012, 23:55

        Webber chose RB because he thinks the’re the best, if ferrari start killing the rest he will jump ship.

        • stirper said on 19th October 2012, 1:47

          No. I think that the choice was between having Alonso team mate or Vettel…i’m pretty sure he thinks that with Vettel he can win some races…like Alonso look pretty unbeatable to a normal driver like Webber…only Hamilton can handle the situation with Alonso…

  12. I don’t understand this performance clause business, the rules are changing in 2014 which is effectively a clean slate for everyone again, so even if Red Bull are uncompetitive next year (which is very unlikely) that should have no bearing on their ability to be competitive under the new regulations in 2014. The same also applies for Ferrari.

    On another note I can quite understand why Alonso would not mind having Vettel in the same car as him, wheareas if the rumours are to be believed he vetoed Hamilton. Alonso and Hamilton both consider themselves better than Vettel, you can hear it in their interview comments they have a lot of respect for each other now a few years have passed since 2007. Yet as we approach the 2014 season Vettel could feasibly be a four time world champion, with Alonso stuck on 2 and Hamilton 1. What better way to establish your legacy as a better driver than by beating him in the same car?

  13. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 17th October 2012, 13:53

    Another advantage of hiring both Alonso and Vettel is that neither is driving for another team. I think the closer the performance of the various teams is, the more important it is to have two top-of-the-line drivers. True, they will take points off each other, but they would also do that if they are driving for different teams. This way, you have two chances of winning the championship.

  14. suka (@suka) said on 17th October 2012, 13:55

    I have nothing against Massa but I’d give a chance to a younger driver.

  15. SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 17th October 2012, 14:11

    Montezemolo’s words should be taken with a pinch of salt. No make that a handful. The Ferrari boss is prone to making statements that he contradicts later on, so there is every possibility of the team employing Vettel in the near future. Why not? They’re arguably the two best drivers on the grid today, and putting both of them in the same team increases the chances of Ferrari reclaiming the constructors championship at the very least. I imagine Red Bull will be considerably weakened if Sebastian left, and McLaren, well, their driver pairing hardly compares to Alonso-Vettel. No offence, but we’re yet to see how Perez performs at the deep end, and JB has been quite inconsistent over a championship year. Surely, the balance would shift in Ferrari’s favour, even if the car was only 2nd best on average? Yes, it might be a tense relationship, but on current form, it looks like the only way for Ferrari to get back on top.

    There’s also the possibility of Vettel saying no to Ferrari ofcourse. In that case, if the Hulk is on his way to Sauber, Ferrari would do well to lean on Force India to put Bianchi in the vacant seat. That way, they can simultaneously evaluate Di Resta, Hulkenberg and Bianchi, while no doubt keeping a close eye on how Perez performs at McLaren. Hulkenberg would be experienced enough at the end of 2013 if Vettel says no. Else Bianchi/Perez can take Alonso’s place when he retires or leaves the team.

    I’m going to stick my neck out and throw in another name – Robert Kubica. I know doctors haven’t been very encouraging, but sportsmen have very often surprised the medical fraternity with their rate of healing, and – this is desperate hope more than anything else – I hope he gets well enough to drive an F1 car at ‘ten-tenths’. He would be the perfect partner for Alonso, they are very good friends, and Ferrari would have two top-tier drivers. I would love to see Kubica make his comeback in a Ferrari.

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  • titams
    on 17th October 2012, 12:19