It’s been one of the fashionable topics of the 2012 season: has Felipe Massa had his day? The Ferrari stalwart is clearly unable to match Fernando Alonso, for whatever reason, but is it really a sensible move to drop the Brazilian? Massa is a personable guy, a pleasant man with many fans, but there are those who feel that he has not been the same driver since that terrible collision with a suspension spring in Hungary a few years back. His points tally this season is a mere shadow of Alonso’s, but it’s also worth noting that Alonso has been quite sensational this season.
So, with his contract over and the relevant options not taken up, is it the end of the road for Felipe? Maybe, maybe not: Alonso has been quite vocal in his support for Massa, citing his ‘loyalty’ to Ferrari as a major attraction. What he means, of course, is that he’s quite happy having a team mate who is consistently unable to match his pace. Ferrari, surely, needs to find someone who can help in the fight for constructors championship points? After all, it is those that bring in the money. Yet there are reports from some sources this week claiming Massa has saved his seat for one more year – unconfirmed as yet, but seemingly confident.
The dilemma is this: if Ferrari was to let Massa go, who could they replace him with? Clearly they had their sights on Mark Webber but, with the Australian choosing to remain at Red Bull, that door is closed. Is there anyone else who truly, genuinely looks a better bet than Massa? Heikki Kovalainen has lain bare that he feels he is ready for another shot at a top team; Sergio Perez has been impressive this year and is a Ferrari academy driver; Lewis Hamilton….no, let’s rule that one out right away. Then there’s Adrian Sutil, currently out of a drive after that curious incident in China last year, who has been seen touting his services around the paddock. Kimi Raikkonen has also been mentioned, but how likely is that after their last dalliance? But, and it keeps coming back to this, are they really a better bet than Massa?
In truth the answer has to be no; of all those mentioned my money would go on Kovalainen, a driver who is much better than his inconsistent stint at McLaren allowed him to display, and one who is not likely to rock the boat. However, it is looking more and more likely that Massa may have another year at Maranello; good luck to him if he does.