Speculation that Felipe Massa could be turfed out of Maranello to make way for Fernando Alonso in future Formula One seasons has been dampened by news that the Brazilian has agreed a new deal with Ferrari.

Massa, who goes into this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix torn between satisfying his own desire for a second home win in as many seasons and knowing that he has an important role to play in helping team-mate Kimi Raikkonen overturn a seven-point deficit to championship leader Lewis Hamilton, has extended his relationship with the Scuderia through to the end of the 2010 racing season.

Although Massa has been contracted to Ferrari since 2001, it is only in the last two seasons that he has been a regular member of the race team, having previously been farmed out to Sauber or confined to testing duties. However, since being promoted to partner Michael Schumacher in 2006, the 26-year old has established himself as a frontrunner in the top flight, taking five victories and eight poles in 34 grands prix for the Prancing Horse.

Despite his success, however, it was always Massa's name that was raised when the rumour mill suggested that Alonso could be on his way to Maranello, either for 2008 or later, when the contracts binding Massa and Raikkonen to Ferrari expired. Although Formula One has long proved that no contract is entirely sacred, Massa's new deal will at least give him confidence for the short term.

The announcement may also go some way to playing down suggestions that there is a rift between team boss Jean Todt and company president Luca di Montezemolo. Todt's son Nicolas handles Massa's business affairs and will have re-negotiated the Brazilian's deal with Ferrari, something that paddock sources claim may not have found favour with Montezemolo had a split been imminent.

 

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