29 July 2012
Massa under threat from Raikkonen, Button?
Ferrari's ongoing search for a team-mate for Fernando Alonso in 2013 has apparently returned to veterans Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button.
Despite Felipe Massa's hope that his improved performances will be enough to earn himself a reprieve as Fernando Alonso's team-mate for 2013, the motorsport press continues to link others to his seat.
The latest names - although both have been rumoured before - are Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button, both of whom Maranello clearly believes would be a step up from the Brazilian who, in recent years, has seldom showed the sort of form he displayed as a title contender before his life-threatening accident at the Hungaroring in 2009. Although Massa's recent performances have taken an upturn, the Scuderia is keen to find a team-mate to help Alonso secure constructors' championship honours and deny its rivals vital points. Massa has so far scored just 23 points to the Spaniard's 154, most of which have come in two of the last five races.
According to respected F1 journalist Tony Dodgins, Raikkonen - who won the 2007 world title for the Prancing Horse in the face of a two-pronged McLaren assault - has been sounded out about a potential return to Maranello, despite the Finn not having parted on the best of terms with team president Luca di Montezemolo at the end of the 2009 campaign. Alonso joined the team the following season, after Raikkonen was freed from his contract a year ahead of schedule, and the Finn spent the following two years fruitlessly chasing his WRC dream.
Raikkonen is currently with Lotus, having been tempted back to F1 for 2012, but is surrounded by rumours that all is not well between team and driver, despite sitting fourth in the standings, 56 points off Alonso.
While Dodgins admits that Ferrari's apparent wish-list also includes the likes of Academy protégé and Sauber racer Sergio Perez, Force India's Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg and even Williams' mercurial Pastor Maldonado, one name he does not feature is that of Button.
The Briton, however, is the subject of rumours in the Italian press after apparently telling Autosprint magazine that Ferrari is 'aware of the terms' of his current McLaren contract. That deal was only signed at last year's Japanese Grand Prix, where Button all but cemented second place in the standings, but is understood to be for at least two years, with options for longer.
The same report, meanwhile, claims that Massa has said that he would rather announce his F1 retirement than be forced to accept a second-rate seat should he be pushed out of the Ferrari line-up....
While both Raikkonen and Button appear long shots to partner Alonso, however, the largely unspoken rumour beginning to do the rounds is that Heikki Kovalainen may be the man to make the move to Maranello. The Finn is out of contract with Caterham at the end of the year and, having used the backmarker to re-energise his stock as an F1 driver, is being tipped to move on to bigger things in 2013. While Ferrari is only now being mentioned as a potential destination, Kovalainen has also refused to comment on his future, fuelling speculation of his departure from Leafield.
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