Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has refused to be drawn on speculation that Ferrari could dump the underperforming Felipe Massa at the end of the 2011 season, but the Italian has offered a strong hint that the 29-year-old Brazilian will need to hit the ground running this season.
Domenicali would not directly be drawn on the subject of Massa’s future when asked by journalists during a press conference at the team’s annual Wrooom PR event in the Italian Dolomites.
Massa – despite leading the points’ standings after the second round of the 2010 championship – slumped to a disappointing sixth overall by the end of the season, although he could (in part) be excused given it was just months after his life-threatening accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“It would be wrong to say anything at the beginning of the season,” Domenical answered, although he did hint that Massa will need to run closer to team-mate Fernando Alonso’s pace in 2011.
“I hope it will be close between them; that [Massa] will be as good, or maybe even faster than Fernando,” he continued. “We need two strong drivers to win the Constructors’ title.”
He added: “I trust that, as in other situations in which he was under immense pressure and reacted very well, he will do the same now.”
Is that a reference to the race-winning driver or old, or the subordinate number-two role?
[Original image via F1 Grand Prix]