A strong performance in the Italian Grand Prix
may not yet be enough to save Felipe Massa's job at Ferrari, but at least helped the Scuderia reclaim second place in the 2013 constructors' standings with seven races remaining.
Having out-qualified team-mate Fernando Alonso
– largely as the result of the Spaniard failing to pick up a tow from his team-mate as Ferrari
had planned – Massa led the initial pursuit of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, having muscled his way past the second RBR entry of Mark Webber
at the start. With Alonso also getting past the Australian in short order, however, it wasn't long before the two Ferraris swapped positions, with Massa offering little resistance as his team-mate lined him up at the Rettifilio on lap eight.
Although he subsequently came under renewed pressure from Webber, Massa was only ousted from third place during the pit-stop window, where Red Bull
opted to stack its drivers, resulting in the Australian getting out ahead of the Ferrari. From that point on, the top four remained unchanged – despite gearbox worries for Red Bull
– with Massa equalling the fourth place he took in the season opener in Australia back in March.
“I am very happy with my race, which went fantastically well right from the beginning,” the Brazilian, who has not bettered fourth since featuring on the Barcelona podium in May, claimed, “A nice start which moved me up two places, and the pace was good on both compounds, so we ran consistently throughout the whole race.”
The 30 points accrued from the 2-4 result allows Ferrari
to move back ahead of Mercedes in the constructors' standings after the German marque suffered a poor return on its weekend. With seven races remaining, however, the Scuderia is 104 points adrift of Red Bull.
“It was a shame I lost the place to Webber at the pit-stop because, today, the podium was within our grasp and it would have been brilliant to celebrate with our fans at our home race,” Massa continued, “Overtaking wasn't easy because, when you find yourself behind another car, especially in the second sector, you lose a lot of downforce, but, overall, the weekend has been very positive for me and the whole team.
“We brought home a good points haul, but we know we still have a lot of work to do if we want to improve. As far as that's concerned, I will be doing my utmost right to the very end of the championship.”
The Brazilian's focus, however, must be swayed by reports claiming a change in the Ferrari
line-up for 2014, with rumours that Kimi Raikkonen
is on his way back to Maranello. With Alonso having reiterated that he intends to end his career with the Prancing Horse, it may already be too late for Massa to save his seat for another season...