Ferrari and team boss Stefano Domenicali have been in the news this week regarding Domenicali’s possible exit to Ferrari’s staff shake up at Maranello. Buried in the story from La Repubblica, is a small warning to Ferrari driver Felipe Massa. Massa, who came off of a tragic injury in 2009 struggled to come to grips with the 2010 car and his teammate Fernando Alonso. Some have accused Massa of being mentally beaten after the pit lane pass Alonso made on his to claim the Alpha Male position within the team.
Depending on your view of the situation, you could side with Massa and claim that Ferrari have not done anything to dispel the notion that Alonso is the clear team favorite and number one driver. You could also argue that they had equal cars and if Massa was concerned about his position in the team, he should have gone faster than Alonso. Either way, it was not a good year for Massa and the 29-year-old Brazilian blamed the Bridgestone tires. Domenicali said:
“In part, that’s a characteristic of the area where he comes from. On the other hand, it’s also symptomatic of a bigger problem,”said Stefano “All drivers, in order to race, must believe themselves to be the strongest”.
“And when they don’t succeed in being the strongest, it’s very hard to clear their heads of the kind of excuses that we all take refuge in when things go wrong.
“I think this was the cause of Felipe’s poor season, but he’ll overcome that if he works on it.
“That’s why I’m certain we’ll see a great Massa in 2011. He’s well aware that he can’t afford another season like the last one.”
The warning was offered with a conciliatory note and explanation on Massa’s behalf that he struggled to come to grips with several elements of the season and that his Brazilian background played a role in his attitude toward the difficulties he faced. It was a mental beat down if not a tangible one and Alonso offered very little hope that Massa could be on equal footing at Ferrari.
Something tells me that 2011 could be Massa’s last at Maranello. That’s an assumption on my part but I’ve seen enough earmarks in F1 to know a difficult situation when I see one. Massa’s position at Ferrari is tenuous at best and if he plays the role of support for Alonso to the maximum, he could have a longer career there but I doubt Massa feels he should play hand maiden to Alonso or anyone else. To that point, where is Massa going to go if not Ferrari for 2012? Where would he find a high-paying driver role on a grid ripe with rent-a-driver youngsters?