Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali insists that Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa will be granted equal status for the 2010 F1 season and allowed to fight each other for the drivers' title.
F1's worst kept secret was confirmed yesterday when Ferrari announced the signing of Alonso for next season, with the Spaniard coming into the team in place of Kimi Raikkonen.
In recent years, Raikkonen and Massa have been both been able to fight for the title until the season reached a stage where one driver was out of contention, when the focus would then turn to supporting the driver still in with a shout of glory.
Speaking to the press at Suzuka ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, Domenicali insisted that neither driver would be given preferential treatment with both drivers given equal opportunities to succeed.
“We will deal with this the same way we have controlled Felipe and Kimi over the past two years, because this is the way we manage the team,” he said. “Drivers who want to come and race for us have to respect our rules. We saw a situation where Felipe helped Kimi, the year Kimi won the title and then Kimi helped Felipe last year, even though unfortunately he was not able to take the title. And it will happen in the future, because this is the way we work and is part of the team's spirit.”
The announcement that Raikkonen is to leave Ferrari has led to speculation over what the team would do if Massa – still recovering from the injuries he picked up in Hungary – wasn't able to take to the track next season, but Domenicalu insisted the Brazilian would be back, although he said there was no chance of a rumoured outing in his home race this season.
“I am sure Felipe will be back to his normal self for the beginning of next season,” he said. “He is recovering very well and is already in the second stage of his training, doing some karting activity. Everything is going very smoothly and I think he will be back in Europe next week to work using our simulator and after that, we will see what will be the next step. As for speculation that he will return to the cockpit for the Brazil Grand Prix, I can refute it categorically.”