Felipe Massa has admitted that he needs to make a strong start to the forthcoming 2012 F1 world championship if he is to have any hope of hanging on to his seat at Ferrari for another year.
The Brazilian has struggled to regain the sort of form that took him to within a handful of seconds of the 2008 world title, especially following the horrific accident he suffered in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix the following season, but has escaped the axe at Maranello on a couple of occasions. Now, however, with two disappointing seasons hanging over his head, Massa acknowledges that he needs to raise his game and prove that he can be a match for team-mate Fernando Alonso.
“I am well aware that, in some ways, the first part of the season will be more important than the second,” he told journalists as Ferrari's Wroom
event drew to a close in Italy, “Competitive teams always decide their plans ahead of time so, when we reach the mid-point of the season, we will talk about my future and see what are the chances of continuing to work with Ferrari.”
The 30-year old failed to reach the podium last season - indeed, he only managed a best of fifth place - and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has made no secret of his desire to bring in new talent should Massa fail again in 2012. Regardless of contracts, Nico Rosberg, Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton are thought to be topping the list of targets for the Scuderia, which is also harnessing young talent, such as Jules Bianchi, in the junior formulae. Robert Kubica has also been mentioned, but team boss Stefano Domenicali quashed rumours that the Pole had been offered a test, just hours before Kubica rebroke his right leg in a domestic fall.
Alonso signed a long-term extension to his existing contract during the 2011 season, and appears content to end his F1 career at Maranello.