The first major driver change for 2006 has been confirmed: Felipe Massa will replace Rubens Barrichello at Ferrari. Barrichello is rumoured to be heading for BAR.
Massa has secured one of the best drivers in Formula One despite an inauspicious career to date. In 2002 he was beaten 11-5 in qualifying by team mate Heidfeld and developed a reputation for crashing. After a year as a Ferrari test driver he returned to Sauber in 2004 and was again outclassed by his team mate, this time Giancarlo Fisichella who had an 11-7 advantage in qualifying and scored 22 points to Massa’s 12. He has fared slightly better against under-fire 2005 team mate Jacques Villeneuve.
Massa’s appointment is undoubtedly designed to protect Michael Schumacher’s position as team leader. He is the German’s sixth consecutive new team mate with no prior victory to his name: indeed, Massa is yet to even reach the podium.