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F1: The Massa Misunderstanding And Ferrari’s Decision

by on May 16, 2012

TWO.  This is the number of points amassed by the young Brazilian thus far in this young 2012 season which is only five races old.  Thus, two is also the number of points he has contributed for his team for the constructor’s championship.  This has the media and friends speculating at whether or not Massa will be in a Ferrari next year or even later this season and who will be replacing him.

Many articles written lately speak of the pressure that’s on Massa to perform. Headlines indicate that the pressure put on him by the team, his fans and the media is mounting. All of this made worse by the fact that his team mate and former champion Fernando Alonso is tied for the lead in the drivers’ championship. I have read only one that dispels the myth of driver pressure by Joe Saward called “Brazilians Under The Spotlight”, found here: http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/brazilians-under-the-spotlight .

There is some truth though to the stories of mounting pressure, be it real or in print.  Massa came under fire from Ferrari and the Tifosi including the media for his less than stellar performance last season.  Even in a dog of a car, he was easily handled by Alonso in 2011.

Let’s take a step back. Massa returned to racing from his accident in Hungry in 2009.  He was rendered unconscious when a spring from the rear suspension of countryman Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn, struck Massa on the noggin, fracturing his skull in the process.  Ferrari showed their loyalty to the little Brazilian and kept him on, giving him a chance to recover and return to almost championship winning form.

Upon his return, he seemed as though he might need some time to get back to normal but on his way there.  The turning point for me however, was the incident in  Hungary in 2010 when his confidence took a massive blow when Alonso pulled a fast one and passed Massa on entry to the pits in China.  From that moment on, I don’t believe Massa to have been the same.

It’s no secret that Ferrari has been struggling since last season, yet this year, somehow, by the grace of God, they find themselves with a driver in the title hunt despite being forth in the constructors battle with a car that is a real handful. The team has been vocal since last season about the importance for Massa to deliver.  More recently calling on him to “switch gears” quickly, as though to say, hey kid, start swimming or drown.

So What’s the misunderstanding? Is it that the only real pressure right now is coming from Massa himself?  Is it that Ferrari are looking to replace Massa mid-season?  Is it that Ferrari are looking to replace him at the end of this season?

Perhaps there is some truth to these stories just as easily as there is no truth to any of them.  So far we’ve heard Webber, Perez and DiResta as candidates with no obvious confirmations from either party. The most recent rumour has D’Ambrosio linked to Ferrari as a possible mid-season replacement, not that there are a shortage of viable options available. 

Personally, I don’t believe anyone can come in at this stage and perform any better or worse than Massa in the F2012.  I would leave Massa to finish the season, if he can get the Pirelli’s turned on and boost his confidence with a few good results, he can still turn this season around and haul in some points.

Let’s see what happens in Monaco where a good performance can breathe new life into Massa and a bad result might push all the wrong buttons and fuel speculation even further. At the end of the day, it is Ferrari’s decision.

Author: Ernie Black

Twitter: @Goggs_on_F1

Blog: http://thef1poet.wordpress.com

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