Date:Wednesday October 17 2012
As widely expected Felipe Massa has signed a new contract extension to remain with Ferrari.
But intriguingly, just days after the BBC had speculated that the deal would only be a 'stop-gap' deal to fill the void before the arrival of Sebastian Vettel in 2014, Massa's deal is only for one further year.
Now there could be various reasons for this, it could be, as the BBC have suggested, that Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has agreed a pre-contract agreement with Ferrari.
It's widely thought of that Vettel's current deal with Red Bull holds various performance related clauses which would enable him to get out of his current deal with Red Bull. Now if Red Bull under-perform in 2013 and Ferrari dominate, this could allow the German to switch teams at the end of next season.
Or of course, the twelve month contract extension could reflect the Brazilian's form over the past couple of seasons. After all, it was only a few months ago that Massa's Formula One career was likely to end at the end of the season let alone his deal with Ferrari.
Massa's form had been quite frankly, terrible. Whilst Fernando Alonso was winning races, Massa was struggling to even score points. He was well off the pace and no-one thought he would remain with Ferrari.
The Brazilian himself said he would only join a competitive team if he left Ferrari and with limited options on the grid available it looked increasingly likely that Massa would walk away from F1 if Ferrari replaced him.
But a resurgence in the second half of the season, including a podium position in Japan has given Massa renewed confidence which has been great to see and in Korea he outperformed his team-mate, infact if it wasn't for Alonso's title challenge Massa would have finished on the podium again last weekend.
But whilst his form has returned, there is no guarantee that Massa may well slip back to under-performing once again so why would Ferrari reward half a season of form with a contract any longer than one season?
Whatever the reason, both parties appear to be happy with the deal.
“I am very happy to have reached this agreement, Ferrari is my racing family and throughout my entire time in Formula One, I have always driven cars powered by engines built in Maranello. I can’t see myself driving cars propelled by anything else! Massa told formula1.com.
“First and foremost, I want to thank President Montezemolo and [Ferrari team principal] Stefano Domenicali, who had faith in me and who have always supported me, even at the most difficult moments. The team and also all the fans can rest assured that I will do all in my power to help the Scuderia reach the targets it sets itself each year.”
Domenicali added: “We are pleased to have extended our relationship with Felipe for a further year, He has been part of our family for over a decade and has shown, especially in this recent part of the season, that he is once again competitive at the highest level, which is what is expected of every driver who gets behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
As mentioned by Domenicali, Massa first joined Ferrari as a test driver in 2003 after losing his seat with Sauber.
He returned to Sauber the following year and after two seasons with the team he joined Ferrari in 2006 finishing third in the F1 World Championship behind then team-mate Michael Schumacher and current team-mate Fernando Alonso.
In 2007 and 2009 he partnered Kimi Räikkönen, almost winning the F1 World Championship in 2008, before an horrific crash in 2009 almost ended his life.
Since that incident Massa has been fighting to find his form and has recently shown he can perform again at the top level and even though he's clearly seen as the second driver behind number one Fernando Alonso, that continuity in the team also brings its own benefits to the team.
Date:Wednesday October 17 2012
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