Felipe Massa is reportedly 'close' to securing a three-year extension to his Ferrari F1 agreement – what would tie him down to the famed Scuderia
until at least the end of 2013, a season longer than the current deal for double world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Massa's relationship with Ferrari began in 2003, when off the back of a mixed rookie campaign in the top flight with Sauber – punctuated by flashes of brilliance intermingled with moments of rash impetuosity – he was taken under the wing of the Prancing Horse as a test driver.
Following two further campaigns at Hinwil, the 28-year-old Brazilian rejoined the fold older and more mature in 2006 and has raced one of the scarlet machines ever since, claiming eleven grand prix victories – putting him fourth on Ferrari's all-time list – and a highlight of the runner-up laurels in the 2008 drivers' world championship.
Should the Paulista triumph in five more races, he will leapfrog world champions Niki Lauda and Alberto Ascari to lie second on the roll call of Maranello's winners, behind only legendary former team-mate Michael Schumacher – and on paper at least, three further years on his contract would leave him well-placed to do just that.
Despite paddock whispers that the Maranello-based concern has been sniffing around both Renault star Robert Kubica and Red Bull Racing protégé Sebastian Vettel, it appears the team is ready and willing to prolong its relationship with Massa beyond the end of 2010, when the present arrangement expires.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali told German magazine Sport Bild
that Ferrari wants 'to build with Felipe into the future', whilst Brazilian newspaper O Globo
contends that the current world championship leader is 'close to renewing his contract for three more seasons'.
It is understood that a new deal has already been prepared and will be signed shortly. Alonso is committed to the Italian outfit until at least the end of 2012 – and the Spaniard has hinted that he intends to conclude his F1 career there.