Felipe Massa has all but secured his future with Ferrari after another strong performance in the Korean Grand Prix.
The Brazilian, who seemed almost certain to lose his drive earlier in the year after a series of below par performances, headed to Korea on the back of a fine second place in Japan – which marked his first top three finish since the inaugural Korean race back in 2010.
Having arguably been quicker than team-mate Fernando Alonso for large spells in the Yeongam race, which led to a call from the team to hold station, Massa is now expected to be confirmed with the Maranello-based team in the near future with team boss Stefano Domenicali saying everything would become clear soon.
“He did an excellent race, and an excellent qualifying,” Domenicali was quoted by respected F1 journalist Adam Cooper
after the race. “But I have to say he's doing an excellent job since a couple of races, so this is really very promising for the end of the season.
“If I want to anticipate the next question that I'm sure someone will ask, very soon you will know what will be our position on that respect.
“I think that for sure he's understanding now better the car, he's understanding better the tyres. We believe that he's a very, very strong driver, there's no doubt, because otherwise we would already have taken a different decision. I feel that now when Felipe has under control his understanding of the tyres on the car, he's performing at the level he should.”
Massa himself said he was delighted by his result in the race having managed to get the maximum from the car throughout.
"After Suzuka, this was another fantastic race for me,” he said. “I managed to run at a great pace from start to finish. I expected that to a certain extent, because on Friday, I'd seen that over a long run, the car behaved very well.
“It's true that you can never be certain about how things will go in the race, but everything went smoothly. I always managed to get a hundred percent out of the car and I am very pleased about that. It was important to pass Kimi and then Hamilton, because from then on, I was able to run at my pace.”
The Brazilian also added that, despite having the pace to challenge Alonso late on, attacking his team-mate was never an option.
“Towards the end, I closed on Fernando but attacking him was never even up for discussion,” he said. “I know how important every single point is in the title fight. The whole team is doing its utmost to help Fernando and I am there for him, just as the team is and as it has been for me when I found myself in the same situation.
“In this second part of the season, I have probably understood the best way to drive this car on these tyres: now I'm enjoying myself and it's a pleasure to make the most of everything I've got when sitting in the cockpit. Maybe there was also some pressure regarding my future coming into play: but at a certain point I told myself I should not think about it too much anymore and probably this approach helped.
“Now I feel stronger and when you enjoy what you are doing, it's the best. In between here and India there's a lot of work to do to improve the car, especially for qualifying. Let's hope the updates will give us a little something extra, which could be decisive when it comes to the fight for the title."