Felipe Massa is in something of a predicament. He is driving for the most illustrious team in Formula One, and yet they are talking to other drivers about the possibility of replacing him for 2013.
Massa joined Ferrari in 2006 to partner Michael Schumacher, and finished third in the championship, behind champion Fernando Alonso (now Massa’s team-mate) and then team-leader Schumacher. 2007 saw Massa finish fourth, behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and the McLaren pair of Hamilton and Alonso. 2008 was so very nearly Massa’s year, as he crossed the line in Brazil as World Champion, only to have it snatched away by Lewis Hamilton who passed Timo Glock in the final corner of the final lap to take the title by a single point.
In 2009, Massa suffered a near-fatal accident in Hungary that left him with devastating head injuries and put him out of action for the second half of the season. Returning in 2010, he was not quite on the front-running pace, but still stood on the podium five times. 2011 was an appalling year for the Brazilian, as he failed to finish higher than fifth for the entire season, while Alonso in the other Ferrari won the British Grand Prix and stood on the podium ten times.
Given his dismal form last year, it is likely that Massa will be replaced for 2013. Mark Webber recently confirmed that Ferrari had contacted him about the second seat at the famous Italian team, but he turned it down in favour of staying with Red Bull. Ferrari must surely be talking to Lewis Hamilton, who is out of contract with McLaren at the end of this season, and they may be thinking of Sergio Perez, who has impressed at Sauber this season.
Massa has, to an extent, recovered his form in the last few races. He was strong in Monaco, and again at the British Grand Prix, where he finished fourth – his best result since 2010. If he can continue his upward trend and deliver the results expected of him as a Ferrari driver, then it is possible that he could retain his drive with Formula One’s most famous team.
But if not, then where does that leave him?
Red Bull’s line-up for 2013 is already confirmed as unchanged. There is no news yet on McLaren’s driver pairing, with Lewis Hamilton’s future undecided, although there have been no rumours of a possible Massa move to the team from Woking. Mercedes seem to be hoping for a contract extension for Michael Schumacher, and appear to be looking at the likes of Paul di Resta to replace the German if he retires. Lotus are in the first year of the Raikkonen-Grosjean partnership, which looks unlikely to be broken up in a hurry.
Those are the front-running teams. Behind them are the midfield, including Force India, Williams, Sauber and Toro Rosso, and behind them still are the backmarkers. After almost winning the championship for Ferrari, would Massa be happy to be in a car that is not capable of scoring points? Surely not.
One option that has been taken up by Massa’s countryman, Rubens Barrichello, is Indy racing. Single-seater racing in the United States is arguably a much friendlier environment than Formula One – which is known for its cut-throat competition – and Massa has long been perceived as perhaps too “nice” to be F1 World Champion. There is certainly support for the idea of a move to Indy in social media, with the topic coming up fairly regularly on Twitter.
Massa’s best bet, fairly obviously, is to remain at Ferrari. But in the event that he does not retain his seat at the Prancing Horse, Indy racing could be a suitable destination for the popular Brazilian.
In motorsport, there are three events that stand out above all others. In no particular order (none is possible, really), the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans are racing’s greatest stages. The first two take place today..
Formula One is in Monte Carlo for the 71st running of the Monaco Grand Prix. The first race in Monaco took place in 1929 and was won by William Grover-Williams in a Bugatti. The race became part of the Formula One World Championship in1950 and has been featured in the Formula One calendar every year since, with the exception of 1951, 1953 and 1954. The track layout has undergone minor modifications over the years, but has retained most of the original course.
Ayrton Senna holds the record for most victories at Monaco with six, followed by Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher on five each. Schumacher will be hoping to equal Senna’s record today. Other past winners on the grid for the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix are Fernando Alonso with two victories, and Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen with one win each.
The Indianapolis 500 is the major event on the North American racing calendar. 500 miles of the world’s most famous oval track decide who will be immortalised in racing history. The first Indy 500 was run in 1911, and won by Ray Harroun in a Marmon Wasp. This year’s race is the 96th Indianapolis 500, with only 6 years having been missed out since the event started due to the first and second World Wars.
Three past winners are on the grid for today’s Indy 500: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Dario Franchitti (2007,2010) and Scott Dixon (2008). The record number of victories is four, which means Castroneves could become joint most successful Indy 500 driver in history if he triumphs today.
A few former Formula One drivers will be taking part in the Indy 500 today. Rubens Barrichello joined the Indycar series for 2012, and starts today’s race 10th after a strong qualifying performance. Takuma Sato joined the Indycar series in 2010, and starts 19th. Sebastian Bourdais starts 25th. Jean Alesi makes a popular comeback to single-seater racing at the age of 47 after retiring from Formula One at the end of 2001. He starts the race in 33rd position.
Only two drivers in history have won both the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 in their careers. Most recently, Juan Pablo Montoya won at Indy in 2000, and at Monaco in 2003. Graham Hill won both events in the 1960s, but his achievements in motorsport’s most significant events are far more startling than that.
Hill is the only driver to have won what is known as the “Triple Crown of Motorsport”: The Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Monaco Grand Prix. He is also the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500, the 24 hours of Le Mans and the Formula One World Championship. Known as “Mr. Monaco”, HIll won five Monaco Grands Prix, the 1966 Indianapolis 500, the 1972 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Formula One World Championship in 1964 and 1968.
The Monaco Grand Prix starts in just under an hour’s time. The Indy 500 is five hours away. The greatest day of the 2012 motorsport calendar is about to get underway.
Rubens Barrichello is set to test for Indycar team KV Racing for a second time. The Brazilian tweeted today: “…I am very happy that I will be testing again for
@kvracing . If my Indy deal comes along it is better that I prepare myself.”
Barrichello lost his seat in Formula One at Williams to Bruno Senna, and subsequently tested for KV Racing with a view to possibly making the switch to Indy racing. This second test suggests that a deal with KV Racing is close to being finalised. The most experienced Formula One driver ever may soon be adding Indy to his impressive CV.
Rubens Barrichello is considering racing in the Indycar series in 2012, after losing his seat in Formula 1 to Bruno Senna.
The Brazilian driver, currently the most experience Formula 1 driver in history, has lost none of his enthusiasm for racing, and so has tested a KV Racing Indycar with a view to possibly joining the team for 2012.
At 39, Barrichello still has much to offer the racing world. His wealth of experience in Formula 1 would be invaluable to KV Racing, and would put him in a strong position to challenge at the front of the Indycar grid.
A decision is expected to be announced during the course of next week.