Felipe Massa has been warned that he will need to 'prove himself' to Ferrari next season by president Luca di Montezemolo after a difficult 2011 season.
Massa has failed to make it onto the podium this year with a best finish of fifth, and has managed to score fewer than half the points of team-mate Fernando Alonso to head into the season finale this weekend in Brazil down in sixth place in the championship standings.
While the man himself says he is hopeful of a strong end to 2011 to launch him into a better season in 2012 [See separate story HERE
], di Montezemolo has now warned Massa of a need to improve next year if he is to remain with the team in the longer term.
"Let's hope 2012 goes well," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport
. "I have great confidence in our drivers and there seems to have been a clarification as regards the regulations. I'm sure we'll have a more competitive car. The drivers? We have a contract with Fernando until 2016 and he's the best driver in the world.
"Massa's contract will run for the whole of next season; he's been with us for quite a few years and even if he didn't have such a great season or much luck, we can't question the ability of a driver who was winning the title three years ago and who has always been fast and competitive. Let's hope he can finish the season with a good result in Brazil, we expect great things from him in 2012 and then we'll decide how to proceed.
“Let's say he'll have to prove himself next season."
Di Montezemolo added that he would give his team 'six out of ten' for its performance this season, with that mark only achieved because of Fernando Alonso's victory at Silverstone.