From competing for the driver’s championship in 2008 to being a driver who has been on the podium just eight times in the five seasons since, without a single win, a lot has changed for Felipe Massa ever since his injury in the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.
It looks like Massa will be given one final shot to seal his place with Ferrari, as the team decide on their lineup for next season. Whilst Massa has been a serious underachiever for Ferrari in recent seasons, the team are still more than willing to give him one more chance.
Currently languishing in seventh place in the championship, this will the fifth straight year in which he is out of contention for the Drivers' Championship. His performance for the prancing horse over the past few years have been the subject of scrutiny and speculation, but Ferrari have said that they will not make a decision about his future until after next month's Italian Grand Prix in Monza, at the earliest.
All of which means that Massa still has two more races, starting with Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, to stake his claim for a fresh contract in a season which promised so much at the beginning.
Massa’s start to the season was nothing short of spectacular, as he out-qualified his celebrated teammate Fernando Alonso in the opening races in a car that looked to suit him very well. But his form has slumped ever since his third place finish in Spain in May, which includes two retirements, two eighth places and a sixth in his previous five races.
Whilst there is a lot of discussion in the recent past about who is going to replace Massa, no clear favorite has emerged from a list containing former champion Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hülkenberg and Paul di Resta. Whilst the latter two are both good in their own right, Raikkonen, who has previously driven for Ferrari, looks like the obvious choice amongst the trio of drivers.
But even that seems a little far-fetched as Raikkonen left Ferrari in something of a cloud in 2009, in a season which saw him win just a single race. And whilst Raikkonen has been linked with both Red Bull and Ferrari, the most likely end sees him remain with Lotus, with whom he has been extremely consistent ever since taking over the reins of the lead driver in 2012.
With a dearth of drivers to replace him, it seems that, in all likelihood, if Massa continues in the rich vein of form he started this season with, Ferrari are more than likely to give him a contract for next season. And whilst Ferrari's president, Luca di Montezemolo, has been critical of Alonso in recent weeks, there hasn’t been a single word said against Massa. Whilst the Spaniard has certainly carried the team on his shoulder, he is still the one who is shouldering some of the blame and not the under-fire Brazilian.
All of these are sure indications that if the Brazilian manages to show some signs of life with good performances at Spa and Monza, Ferrari would be more than happy to have him for the 2014 season.
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