As expected, Ferrari has confirmed that Felipe Massa will continue alongside Fernando Alonso at the team for 2013. Note that it is a single year deal. His performances of late have certainly improved, yet the first half of the season was largely dismal for the Brazilian. Many will express dismay at what they see as a ‘boring’ decision, but what other options did the team genuinely have? Who is there available that could arguably do a better job?
With Sergio Perez snatched from the Ferrari Academy by rivals McLaren it is difficult to find a sensible candidate: Nico Hulkenberg is clearly talented but inconsistent; Paul di Resta has his moments; Kamui Kobayashi is an enigma, and Adrian Sutil has a year’s lack of experience to catch up on. Perhaps Jaime Alguersuari had a look in, but is he really that good? Heikki Kovalainen had also been mentioned in relation to the drive. Ferrari admits to having spoken to other drivers, and you can bet that some of the above are among those who have been approached, but clearly it had been considering keeping Massa since Mark Webber turned down an offer early in the season.
Massa is a nice guy, perhaps too nice to be a cutting edge racing river, and has enjoyed a fine career. He’s been at Maranello since 2006, and he is perhaps the ultimate team player, a latter day Riccardo Patrese, if you like. Of course, this decision will fan the flames of the Vettel-to-Ferrari rumours; I still cannot see it happening for 2014. However, that they have given Felipe only one year implies they have someone in mind for 2014. I’ve already told you who I believe it will be.
So, there remain a handful of undecided seats to be filled: Force India is likely to keep Paul di Resta while Nico Hulkenberg is strongly fancied to switch to Sauber. At the Swiss team, Kobayashi’s seat is by no means secure, so there may be another vacancy there. Caterham has neither driver confirmed for 2013 but hopes to keep Heikki Kovalainen; Vitaly Petrov may have access to money, which is always a bonus. Marussia look likely to keep Timo Glock but the future of Charles Pic is less certain: his name has been mentioned in connection with a number of the lower ranking teams, and he has done a decent job this year. At HRT Pedro de la Rosa will – very sensibly – be kept on, with the other seat undecided.