Felipe Massa's manager Nicolas Todt has initiated talks with both the Brazilian's present employer Ferrari as well as Renault regarding next year, as the 2008 F1 World Championship runner-up's position at the Prancing Horse appears to be ever-more tenuous.
Massa has been a Ferrari driver on-and-off since 2003, and has competed for the Scuderia
on a full-time basis since the beginning of 2006. During that time, the Paulista has defied his detractors by proving capable of holding his own against the likes of world champions Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen, but the title-winner over in the other side of the garage to him this year could just be one too many, it seems.
Massa and Fernando Alonso have not had the easiest of relationships ever since the former accused the latter's 'fixed' Singapore victory of two years ago of having cost him that season's drivers' crown – and tensions heightened after the Spaniard brusquely and single-mindedly elbowed his team-mate aside onto the grass entering the pit-lane during the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai last month.
There are some who contend that Massa is being increasingly edged out of the door at Ferrari – speculation that is scarcely quelled by the reaction of the company's president Luca di Montezemolo to his lacklustre performances of late and struggle to adequately get to grips with the F10 [see separate story – click here
] – ostensibly to make way for Renault star Robert Kubica. Indeed, whilst he insists his principal goal is to stay put, the smarter money now looks to be upon the 29-year-old doing a straight swap with the Pole next year.
“I like it a lot at Ferrari,” Massa told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
. “I know everybody and everybody knows me. However, it is always encouraging to know that other teams with fast cars are interested in me. The main objective is to continue with Ferrari, but if that fails than we will look elsewhere.”
Another man to be linked in connection with Massa's Ferrari seat is Red Bull Racing's current world championship leader Mark Webber – winner of the most recent two grands prix in Spain and Monaco – though the plain-speaking Aussie is remaining tight-lipped, conceding only that 'things happen and change very fast in this business and you never know what's around the corner'.
The Maranello-based outfit's team principal Stefano Domenicali, meanwhile, insists that 'we trust Massa...he is doing a good job', as the eleven-time grand prix-winner and erstwhile F1 2010 World Championship pace-setter bids to kick his challenge back into gear again in this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix, around the demanding Istanbul Park Circuit at which he went unbeaten from 2006 to 2008 and that he transformed into something of a personal stomping ground, acknowledging that it is 'probably my favourite track'.
“The only thing that matters is my work within the team and how we prepare for the future,” he told French publication Le Nouvel Observateur
. “I came here to be with Michael [Schumacher – in 2006], I have also teamed up with Kimi and today I'm with Fernando. They are all strong drivers. I feel a lot of respect within the team – and that is what matters.”