Felipe Massa says Ferrari’s recent failure to secure Formula 1 world championship titles has not solely been down to Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel arrived at Ferrari in 2015 with the hope of emulating his childhood hero Michael Schumacher by winning a title with the Maranello squad and ending the team’s long wait for championship silverware.

Despite calming 14 victories, Vettel’s bid has so far been unsuccessful. He came closest to delivering Ferrari’s first title since 2008 in 2017 and 2018 but a combination of driver error and team mistakes saw him end up finishing runner-up to Lewis Hamilton on both occasions.

The four-time world champion has one season left at Ferrari to achieve the feat of ending the team’s 12-year drought before he departs upon the expiry of his current contract.

But Massa, who famously looked set to land the 2008 drivers’ title before Hamilton snatched it away from him on the final corner of the last lap of that year’s dramatic finale in Brazil, believes Vettel’s tenure at Ferrari should not be deemed a failure.

"You cannot forget that the last time Ferrari won the [constructors'] championship was in 2008,” Massa said on the latest edition of the Sky Sports F1 Vodcast.

"It's true that many good drivers [were] passing through the team and were not able to win. Including after 2008 I was there, and we never had really the car or the team to win.

"Fernando [Alonso] definitely made an incredible job in 2010. He arrived really on the limit fighting for the championship. But maybe, to be honest, the car was not able to win in that year. In my opinion, he did an amazing job.

"All of the drivers that are passing there [since] - Sebastian, Kimi [Raikkonen]- were not able to win because the team was not completely perfect to win the season.

"So it's not only related to Sebastian. Sebastian did many great races, he won many races or he fought [for them], and he was always in front of his team-mate - even a good team-mate and champion like Kimi.”

Vettel will be replaced at Ferrari by current McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, who sealed a career-best sixth place finish in the 2019 championship and helped McLaren to fourth spot in the constructors’.

The Spaniard has signed a two-year deal at Ferrari, where he will partner two-time grand prix winner Charles Leclerc to form the Scuderia’s youngest driver line-up in half a century.

Massa said he was surprised that Sainz beat Ricciardo to Vettel’s seat but believes Ferrari has made the best overall decision for the team.

"What I can say is I also expected Ricciardo maybe to be the Ferrari driver because everybody is thinking 'Ricciardo will be the guy'," Massa explained.

"But I think we need to respect the decision of Mattia [Binotto] and the team to get Carlos. Carlos shows that he has the talent.

“In his first year of Formula 1 if you really get back and try to see all the races, I think he and Verstappen were really close. He really showed he has the speed, he has the talent and he works a lot.

"He is a big worker in the physical way, but also in the team. He grew a lot in his career and last year he did a really fantastic year for McLaren. He has the experience so has the capacity to give what the team wants."

 

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