Ferrari would be happy to retain Felipe Massa next season, but the Brazilian has to deliver the results, team principal Stefano Domenicali said on Wednesday.
Massa’s contract expires at the end of the season and his place at Formula One’s most successful and glamorous team has again been called into question, as has been the case for the past few years.
The Brazilian has not won a race since 2008 and appeared on the podium only twice last year.
This season, he finished third in Spain, but he has been out-qualified 8-3 by his double world champion teammate Fernando Alonso. While Alonso is second overall with 151 points, Massa has scored 67.
“My favorite choice would be, of course, to keep Felipe because Felipe is a very good guy — very dedicated to the team — and when you look around, there are not so many drivers out there that you swap and they immediately deliver — but of course, we need good results from Felipe, so that’s why we will not rush as we have to make the right decision for the team,” Domenicali said in an interview with formula1.com.
Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari’s 2007 world champion, could be slotted in straight away and Domenicali spoke highly of him without giving anything away.
“Kimi is a very fast driver and everybody knows how I rate him, but if I make a comment now it will be taken as a direct answer … there is no rush and we will make the right decision in the right moment,” he said.
Raikkonen has also been linked to champions Red Bull and McLaren in media speculation, but Lotus are confident they can keep him. Other drivers who might be in the frame for a Ferrari seat include Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Force India’s Paul di Resta.
Domenicali, whose next race is Ferrari’s home Italian Grand Prix at Monza, said the rumors and gossip were all part of the “psychological game” and not relevant to him.
“I am laughing and thinking about the poor people who are reading these kinds of things,” he said. “If they really knew the truth, they would never read such absurd things again.”