Heading into to the Monaco Grand PRix weekend, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa felt this was going to be the weekend that his 2012 campaign started. He may have been right.
Securing a 6th place finish in the principality was bolstered byt a good qualifying session on Saturday that gave the Brazilian a chance for good results. The 8-points secured Sunday bests anything he’d scored in the five previous races combined by a multiplier and if this is where his season starts, he has some catching up to do against his teammate Fernando Alonso who is leading the championship thanks to the unpredictability of this year’s results. Sunday marked the 6th different winner in as many races and Alonso has manhandled his petulant Ferrari F2012 to a lead in the title race at 76 points to Massa’s 10.
Regardless of the challenge Massa faces, he has to start his season somewhere and Monaco may have been the place. The rumors have swirled like well-gelled comb-over and even the Italian press have been calling for the head of Massa in favor of anyone who can fog a mirror but the Brazilian has remained resolute and even impressed his boss on Sunday:
“I think he did a great weekend. It was the weekend he deserved after a lot of big pressures,” team principal Stefano Domenicali told the press.
“I think he did a great qualifying, you always can say he could have been a little bit better in Q3 (the third phase) but we need to look for a wider picture, from a wider angle. He did a great race today.
“He was there in the first six cars which were very close. He was there, so that’s for me the best thing and I’m sure that this will be a turning of his season because he needs that,” added the team boss.
In recent days, the team have even called for a new Massa and soon and that doesn’t bode well for the future prospects. Even if Massa starts to deliver, one wonders if his contract, which ends in 2012, will even be considered for renewal given the sluggish 2011 and 2012 season. Regardless, it is a day-by-day situation and Stefano understands it’s been difficult for the Brazilian:
“It was a great boost for him because at the end of the day everyone is unhappy when he is performing in a difficult moment,” said Domenicali.
“It’s something that we need for the constructors championship. I am expecting really a good Felipe up to the end (of the season).”
Massa believe that Monaco is the turning point and like all teams, they need drivers finishing in the points nose-to-tail. While that didn’t quite happen Sunday, a sixth place is a good start. Felipe Massa said:
“I really hope my championship has turned around and that from now on I can always be in the fight for the top places, as was the case here,” he said.
Let’s hope, for Massa’s sake, that this is indeed a new era and that his tenure in Formula One doesn’t end with the most prescient memory of an errant spring that injured the Brazilian in 2009. What do you think? Can Massa salvage a career at Ferrari or do you think he’ll struggle to simply remain in F1 given the competition?