Date:Wednesday May 16 2012
Just how long will Ferrari's patience last with Felipe Massa?
Rumours have surrounded the Brazilian driver for the best part of a year, with the majority of the media and the paddock expecting Massa to be shown the door at Ferrari when his current contract expires at the end of the 2012 Formula One season.
But is his current form so bad that Ferrari might even be tempted to make a change before the season comes to an end? It's unlikely Fernando Alonso's permanent new team-mate will join until the 2013 season, which currently appears to be Felipe Massa's only saving grace.
But if the 31-year-old assumed he would be guaranteed the season to turn around his form, then a recent statement from the team may well have come as a surprise.
'In Montmelo [Spain], 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, his second home race, given that he lives just a few hundred metres from what, as from next Sunday, will be transformed into the paddock for the sixth round of the 2012 championship.'
It has been clear since pre-season that the 2012 Ferrari has been a difficult car to get results out of, but the performances of Fernando Alonso have merely highlighted the severe gap between the two drivers racing abilities.
Alonso has got the most out of a 'poor' Ferrari, he has won one of the opening five races of the season and is level on points at the top of the F1 drivers championship, Massa has consistently failed to qualifying in the top ten and has secured just two-points from five races.
It's a far cry from the Felipe Massa of 2008 who won six races, finished on the podium ten times and narrowly missed out on clinching the F1 World title to Lewis Hamilton.
In 2009 he had six top ten finishes to his name and a third place finish at the German Grand Prix, but unfortunately he suffered his near fatal crash during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix and went on to miss the remainder of the season.
He of course made a wonderful recovery to get behind the wheel again in time for the following season, but since his return at the start of the 2010 campaign Massa has failed to win a race, he has finished second just twice in the 2010 Bahrain GP and 2010 German GP, while he also stood on the podium after finishing third in Australia, Italy and Korea [all in 2010].
In 2011 he failed to finish higher than fifth and finished the season in 6th place and during the opening five races of 2012 Massa has just one top ten finish, a ninth place in Bahrain.
His form clearly isn't good enough for Ferrari, but when will patience run dry?
Current Site Poll
Our current front page poll tips Sauber's Sergio Perez to become Fernando Alonso's team-mate at Ferrari in 2013.
The Mexican driver currently has 45% of the vote, with Force India's Paul di Resta taking 18% following a ringing endorsement from three-time champion Jackie Stewart.
9% believe Lewis Hamilton will make a surprise switch to Ferrari to team back up with Fernando Alonso, while just 1% believe Felipe Massa can turn it around.
There doesn't appear to be much backing for Robert Kubica or Mark Webber following the speculation linking them with the hot-seat, however 27% back 'Someone else' entirely, which could be Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg or Lotus test driver Jerome d'Ambrosio who have also been linked with replacing Massa.
The poll is still open, so make your prediction now!
Date:Wednesday May 16 2012
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