Rumours that Felipe Massa’s F1 career may well be headed for the exit door – a la fellow F1 veterans Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello – have ramped up another notch following yet another woeful performance at the Spanish Grand Prix.
After scrambling into the second phase of qualifying on Saturday, the Brazilian qualified slowest of the Q2 runners and started the race sixteenth courtesy of Lewis Hamilton’s grid demotion.
Despite making an excellent start, Massa progressively fell down the field and finished fifteenth, suffering the indignity of being lapped by team-mate Fernando Alonso, who finished a fighting second to race-winner Pastor Maldonado.
Massa’s fastest lap of the race was over a second slower than the best time wrung out of the car by Alonso.
Ferrari currently lies fourth in the Constructors’ Championship standings, with Massa having scored just two of the team’s 63 points to-date.
And the rumours that the team is swiftly running out of patience with the diminutive driver are continuing to gain momentum, particularly on the back of critical comments from Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali.
“We absolutely need his points to also fight for the constructors’ title,” Domenicali said after the racing, adding that he expects his struggling driver to “fight back starting in Monaco” in two week’s time.
The situation bears similar resemblance to twenty years ago when Ferrari’s ill-handling twin-floor F92A brought about the end of Ivan Capelli’s Formula 1 career.
The Italian scored just three points before being fired before the year was out, while team-mate Jean Alesi heroically delivered two podium finishes in the dreadful car.
While no one is suggesting that the heavily updated F2012 is as bad a car as the F92A, there are still striking similarities in the performance gulf between the team’s two drivers twenty years on.