30 August 2012
Zanardi suggests DTM ace as Massa replacement
Former F1 pilot Alex Zanardi offers a new, and unexpected, twist on who should replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari for 2013 and beyond.
Alex Zanardi may be gearing up for his first Olympian appearance in the London Paralympic Games, but that has not prevented him from turning his mind to matters F1.
The charismatic Italian, who has qualified for the handbike events over the next fortnight and has apparently hinted that he would like to return to the Indianapolis 500 once his 'other' sporting interest has reached its pinnacle in London, was naturally asked for his opinion on the debate surrounding Ferrari's F1 line-up for 2013. Although he never drove for the Scuderia - and enjoyed less than sparkling stints with Williams and Jordan around his repeated Champ Car success in the USA - Zanardi sees no reason why an Italian shouldn't be considered as team-mate to Fernando Alonso, although his choice of candidate was not one that many expected.
"My number one choice would be Lewis Hamilton," he told an interview in Italy's Autosprint magazine, "but number two would be [DTM racewinner] Edoardo Mortara.
"If I were Ferrari, I would do with him what McLaren did with Lewis. I see what he is doing in the DTM and, in a series where even the best struggle, he drives like a veteran. I do not think that the category should be a dead-end, and he has come direct from F3."
Zanardi clearly considers Mortara a long-term Ferrari prospect, putting him ahead of current development scheme drivers Sergio Perez and Jules Bianchi, but offers both Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg as potential one-year stop-gap options while Ferrari waits on other drivers.
The Italian also suggested reasons why Massa has failed to return to the sort of form that took him to within seconds of claiming the 2008 world championship, his Hungaroring accident the following year notwithstanding.
"For me, Felipe is a driver with great qualities, but his anxiety has got the better of him," Zanardi claimed, "I think, if he had tried to be himself, and not tried to match Alonso, I'm sure that he would have been on the podium more often. But he is only human being, and more 'Latin' than Fernando in the emotional sense. It's a difficult job to drive for Ferrari, but the team needs to stand by him for the rest of the season, because there are important points to claim. Beyond that, however, I think it is inevitable that they will replace him."
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