Much-improved form from Felipe Massa at recent Grands Prix has proven to be the catalyst in Ferrari’s decision to re-sign the Brazilian for at least another year.
Following another healthy points haul at Yeongyam – where only team orders prevented him from challenging his third-placed team-mate for another podium result – team boss Domenicali all but confirmed Massa would retained and a formal announcement made soon.
“Very soon you will know what will be our position on that respect,” he said after the race, which saw Ferrari leapfrog McLaren into second place in the Constructors’ Champion standings.
“[Now] Felipe has under his control the understanding of the tyres and car, he performs at the level he should.”
Massa has been the subject of intense speculation over his future with the team, and he has largely struggled to achieve comparable results to his team-mate Fernando Alonso, particularly in the seasons following his return from injuries sustained in that horrific qualifying accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Having failed to land a podium finish since the 2010 Korean Grand Prix, it seemed Massa’s days were surely numbered, and there have been a queue of drivers – most notably Mark Webber, Sergio Pérez, Nico Hülkenberg and Paul di Resta – who have all been touted as possible replacements.
Hülkenberg, in particular, had been a favoured candidate in recent weeks, although the more recent silly season rumours have suggested that the German will move to Sauber as a replacement for the McLaren-bound Pérez.
But Massa finally delivered a long-awaited visit to the rostrum at the Japanese Grand Prix just over a week ago, and some excellent pace at the Grands Prix in Italy and Korea seem to have been enough to convince Ferrari’s leadership team that he is worth keeping on for at least another year, or until a better replacement can be found…