Why there might be something to the Webber-Ferrari rumors

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It sounds like the Mark Webber-to-Ferrari rumors/reports are gaining a little traction this week.

It all started with some reports in Spanish media, and apparently the Australian press has gone a bit wild with it. Today, James Allen has a sober reflection on it all:

Webber, 35, addressed the rumours in a media briefing last night in Mugello. He said that he had not signed anything, but stopped short of denying that there was anything going on.

“Sergio was flavour of the month last week for the Ferrari drive; now it’s me,” Webber said. “I’m focusing 100 per cent on this season and doing the best job for myself and Red Bull Racing. I’m not putting any energy into anything else. We have a whole season ahead before you start thinking about our future. One day there is talk that Jenson (Button) will go to Ferrari, then Sergio, now me.

“I have not signed anything. Just think about my team. We have made a good start to the season, we’ve done only four races and the road is still very, very long before you start talking about the future.”

The issue, as of now, as Allen notes is that Felipe Massa just isn’t scoring enough points. Allen breaks it down nicely. Last year, when we all weren’t impressed with Massa as compared to Fernando Alonso, Felipe totaled 45% of Alonso’s points. So far this year — still early, yes — Massa has 4% of Alonso’s points.

Todd also is breaking this down over here.

So, the Massa points scoring deal, that’s not good. And so, from Allen …

There has been contact in the past between the two and Webber has been on Ferrari’s radar for a number of reasons; he gets on well with Fernando Alonso and is liked by Stefano Domenicali and others, he’s uncomplicated and he’s fast. He also has a lot of experience and solid engineering understanding, both of which Ferrari prize.

Many people assume that Sergio Perez is the natural choice for the Ferrari team, as he has been groomed by them in much the same way that Felipe Massa was. His berth at Sauber is part of that time-honoured process, and Perez is also a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy. However the Mexican still has a lot to prove. He is only 22 and has only one year’s worth of experience and it is not Ferrari’s way to sign drivers without quite a lot more experience than that. Massa was a bit of an exception, coming to them at 25 after three seasons with Sauber from 2002 to 2005. He also had a stint as Ferrari test driver in the days when that meant covering a serious mileage.

For Perez to be ready for Ferrari will take at least another year if not two. So it is logical, if Ferrari is thinking of dropping Massa, that it should look for a solution for the next two years and Webber is the obvious choice. He is on a rolling one year contract, keeping his options open on both sides.

Allen goes on to note issues such as the Alonso Clause (not quite in those words) as well as the fact that Red Bull might not be ready to let Webber go next year, simply because the logical replacements — the two Toro Rosso drivers — probably aren’t ready.

But there’s what makes me think there could be something to it all. From Webber’s Twitter after the first day of testing at the Ferrari Mugello track: “I did 10 dry laps today around Mugello, which is the same as doing 1000 laps around Abu Dhabi track in terms of satisfaction.”

Sucking up to the future bosses?

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