Felipe Massa has not given up hope of retaining his seat at Ferrari. When asked about his future at Maranello, the Brazilian indicated that he “didn’t sign anything for next year yet but I think we have the possibilities to sign”, and cited improvements in qualifying as his immediate goal on the track.
Ferrari typically announce their driver line-up at the Italian Grand Prix. This year, the team has announced that it will delay the announcement, as decisions are still being made. That suggests that Massa is still being considered as a race driver for 2013.
Mass is currently in his seventh season at Ferrari, which makes him one of the team’s most experienced drivers. In his time at Maranello, Massa has come very close to winning the World Championship in 2008, had a near-fatal accident in 2009, won 11 races, stood on the podium 33 times and taken 15 pole positions. His contribution to Ferrari’s glittering history is significant, and therefore any decision to replace him would be a difficult one for the team management to make.
Aside from the last race at Spa (where Alonso was taken out of the race in the first corner), Massa has so far failed to finish or qualify ahead of his team-mate this season, which is a record he will be very keen to correct. Although he has shown signs of a return to form, most notably at Monaco where he was quick throughout the race, Massa has been consistently slower than Alonso throughout the year.
If Massa is to retain his seat at Ferrari, his immediate plan must surely be to close the gap to his team-mate. Alonso is showing what the car can do. Massa, at least from the spectator perspective, is not. He needs to find the speed that was so evident when he was a title contender in 2008, otherwise Ferrari will have no choice but to replace him.