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Another veiled warning to Massa?

15 May 2012

Tucked away at the foot of Ferrari's traditional post-race weekend follow-up report was what appeared to be another 'hurry up' to the beleaguered Felipe Massa.

Having finally opened his 2012 account at the fourth time of asking in Barcelona three weeks ago, the Brazilian returned to his usual spot outside the top ten as F1 returned to Europe at the Circuit de Catalunya at the weekend. Although his cause was not helped by a penalty for missing a yellow flag - something Massa continues to question - he was already having to recover from qualifying a disappointing 17th fastest.

A decent start lifted the second Ferrari onto the edge of the points, and Massa even invaded the top seven as the pit-stop windows cycled through, but the penalty - which came close to his second scheduled stop - dropped the Brazilian too far back to make amends in the latter stages and, even as team-mate Fernando Alonso was taking to the podium, he came home a frustrated 15th.

With the rumour mill already running through a list of possible replacements, both immediate and for 2013, the presence of Adrian Sutil in the Barcelona paddock provided extra grist. The former Force India driver made no secret of holding out for the third driver role at Maranello over the winter, only for his impending court appearance on assault charges to scupper his hopes of securing a drive anywhere.

However, with Massa's position under seeming constant scrutiny, the German's appearance naturally set tongues wagging, with a variety of rumours already circulating - including plugging him directly into Massa's seat or replacing Paul di Resta at Force India to allow the Scot to go to Maranello - by the time the circus packed up and headed for Monaco.

Ferrari's review of the weekend will not have done much to boost Massa's morale either, as it raised the spectre of his dwindling points haul, notably in a season where unpredictable results have left the championship much closer than in recent years.

"As for an analysis of the Scuderia's performance and its two drivers, Fernando has always maintained a very high level (67 points and second place in 2010, 51 and fifth place last year), while Felipe's drop off has made itself felt," the story noted.

"The Brazilian had picked up 49 points two years ago and 24 the following year while, so far this season, he has just two. In Montmelo, Felipe was very unlucky, both in the race and in qualifying, but everyone, he more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear, starting right away with the Monaco Grand Prix."

While he has never professed to enjoy the Principality's tight street circuit, Massa has occasionally surprised with his performances there, and should be in no doubt that a return to form is required this time around.


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