Keeping Massa was “right decision” – Montezemolo

2012 F1 season

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Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says his team made the correct decision by keeping Felipe Massa for the 2013 season.

“The Brazilian improved a great deal in the second half: in fact in the first part, it seemed he?d gone on a round the world holiday,” Montezemolo told Ferrari’s website.

“Joking apart, I think the decision to reconfirm his position was the right one: if we had changed, then one would need to take on someone who would make a difference and I can?t say I noticed many drivers around who would be quicker than Felipe.

“Also, we did not want to change the balance and the good atmosphere within the team.

“[Team principal Stefano] Domenicali and I told ourselves it was best to wait and I think that the facts proved us right. Towards the end, when Felipe was even faster than Fernando a couple of times, the points he scored played a vital part in securing our place in the constructors? championship.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner recently queried Ferrari’s decision to keep Massa and said he would not have done the same.

Montezemolo also praised Fernando Alonso and compared him to two of the team’s previous multiple champions:

“The Spaniard is a mix of [Niki] Lauda and [Michael] Schumacher: like the former, he has the ability to drive every race lap as though it was qualifying, like the latter, he has the intelligence to know when it?s time to push and when it?s time to look after the car.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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80 comments on “Keeping Massa was “right decision” – Montezemolo”

      1. @spawinte – it wasn’t the right decision, which I second!

    1. So even outpacing Alonso for the entire last third of the season wasn’t enough for you?

      1. “ENTIRE LAST THIRD” of the season ? U mean to say 6-7 races. Oh My God. What were you watching ? He was only faster in Korea, USA and Brazil.. comeon, dont turn a blind eye to support ur fav driver..

        1. @gill

          Massa improved dramatically over the last 3 races. I think as a driver who is willing to do a lot to ensure his teams success, sometimes at the expense of his, he is the right man for Ferrari.

      2. Get real.. it was 2 races out of 20.

      3. The announcement to retain Massa came before those last few races in which he seemed to be on par with Alonso again. At the time that the team decided to keep him, he was underperforming drastically. I can understand the reasoning behind this, but in my opinion what Ferrari are doing is not good for Formula 1.

        1. At the time that the team decided to keep him, he was underperforming drastically.

          He was resigned after Korea, a race where he’d just outpaced Alonso, the race after Japan where he finished 2nd. Underperforming drasticly, yeah right.

          1. @oel-f1
            Indeed he started to pick up the pace indeed, but if you look at his performance up ’til then, he was pretty rubbish in comparison to Alonso.

      4. COUGH! What?!

        Outpaced him? How many races did I miss?

  1. yes it was the right thing to keep Massa, Ferrari have a clear number 1 in the team ie Alonso… they get a decent second driver who accepts the role of helping Ferrari & Alonso win a WDC. All they need is a decent car from the start & hope that Webber & Vettel keep taking points out of each other and Massa plays the 2nd driver role to take points away from the other championship hopefuls

    1. He is probably the best driver who is happy to be a No. 2.

  2. Also, we did not want to change the balance and the good atmosphere within the team.

    Yep, it was the right decision, because I don’t think there are many drivers out there who are fast, but without ambition, happy to take a gearbox penalty for benefit of their teammate..

    1. Yeah as much as I hate their philosophy it is what it is, and I think that LdM would be hard pressed to find someone faster and yet willing to play the role. After all, get much faster than FM was near the end of the season, be consistant from the start of the season, and you’ve pretty much got someone who could fight for the WDC. But that’s not what they want. I think once they are done with FM they will have to go with a relative newby who will play the role, just thrilled to be at Ferrari and to help out, so they will have to accept that he won’t be there robbing points from the top competitors FA will be dealing with. Just as they wished FM was able to do more of this year but couldn’t. Not in FA’s radically changed car on those tires. Perhaps FM will play more of a role early on in the season next year. Too bad Ferrari always think their roosters need the help. Kind of flies in the face of calling them roosters.

      1. ferrari should in 07 and 08 they will support who is the quicker of the 2 drivers.

        so massa had to support fernando in the title run in? and so what. have you all forgotten montoya helping Kimi in 05….when team orders were banned. no one battered an eye lid. then ferrari did it 2010 and they were the devils.

        short or selective memories.

        If Massa was quicker than fernando he would get his chance again. But he is not

        1. If Massa was quicker than fernando he would get his chance again. But he is not

          No, because at the very moment, none of them are racing! :D

          Seriously though, he might be next year, nobody knows that now right now.

        2. @q85 The difference being JPM didn’t have to give it up for KR from race one in 05. And FM will never be faster than FA while the team doesn’t want him to be and they gear everything toward their rooster. It’s just the way it is at Ferrari. They didn’t hire FA for FM to win the WDC.

          1. i refer to 07 and 08. Kimi was clear no.1 in 07 and 08 massa came out well and was supported.

          2. @q85 – Kimi wasn’t made “clear no.1” until Massa slipped out of contention. Massa won several races (even Turkey late in the year, when Raikkonen finished second).

    2. happy to take a gearbox penalty for benefit of their teammate

      To be fair, it was the penultimate race of the season and Massa was nowhere in the standings. Why would he protest doing it? As much as every driver loves to win, I’m sure that most of them will do what is necessary to benefit the team when the situation is right.

      1. I think Massa wasn´t happy with wat they did

        Q: (Simon Cass – Daily Mail) Another one for Seb, would you like to have a team-mate like Felipe Massa? And you were very cool about the situation last weekend: will you be just as cool about the situation last weekend if you’re not World Champion on Sunday? SV: Well what they do is not in our hands. I didn’t follow up if Felipe had a real trouble with the gearbox or not but as I said it’s not our job to focus on these things. After seeing Felipe on Sunday night in Austin I’m not sure whether he would be a good team-mate! No, I’m joking. I think obviously it is a different approach compared to my team but that’s how life is. I think everyone handles certain situations in a different way.

        1. Well yeah, he wouldn’t be HAPPY about it, but I don’t think he would have been angry in the same was as he might have been, had he still mathematically been able to win the title etc.

          1. This is coming from a guy who insisted he get his teammate’s front wing because his broke. I dont think I think Red Bull can take hypocrisy to an entirely new level

          2. @todfod Where does Red Bull come into this? I don’t really get what you’re getting at. I’m not saying Red Bull are the ‘good guys’ here. I think quite the opposite, I hate them.

  3. We’ve seen Massa resurgences three years in a row. He sucks for 80% of the Season and when he does well in the other 20%, people exaggerate how the 2008 Massa is back and blah blah blah. Then he drops again and the “fire him” talk continues.

    They need a 2nd driver who can at least be consistent.

    1. He only resurged at the final race in 2011, and in 2010 he actually became worse after the team orders, so no, this is a first.

  4. Ferrari have always been a one-man team, and there aren’t many drivers who will tolerate always having to give way to their team mate. Mass, rightly or wrongly, is one such driver, and probably the fastest of them, too. That’s why he should be kept.

  5. I’ve made this claim several times on this site now: what true and unbiased Formula 1 fans want to see is the best drivers competing against eachother. Ferrari has been going against this principle for the last two years by retaining Massa for yet another season. It is clear that there are plenty of other drivers that would be better than Massa if they were to drive the red car.

    For instance, a team like McLaren has always tried to have the best driver duo possible. With an underperforming Kovalainen, they wasted no thought and replaced him by that year’s world champion. And as a replacement for Lewis Hamilton, they hired the best driver (in their eyes). What Ferrari is doing, is not fair towards the many F1 fans and is making a mockery out of this sport.

    And please don’t reply to my comment with: ‘but Ferrari is a better team with a good number two driver’. I actually took some time to calculate the 2012 championship result if Massa would have finished directly behind Alonso in the 18 races that Alonso finished: Alonso would have scored 278 points, but Vettel only 267. So.. effectively, Alonso lost the championship because Massa wasn’t close enough behind him to ‘fend off’ Vettel.

    1. ‘but Ferrari is a better team with a good number two driver’

      Should of course be ‘with a BAD number two driver’

      1. @andae23 But if someone is consistently beter than Massa (in the same car), he would become a threat for Alonso and in WDC, and I don’t know many drivers who would want to play number 2 if they have a chance for WDC … Massa is right on the limit for me, “good” enough to be kept and “bad” enough not to interfer with Ferrari’s position.
        But he wasn’t in the first part of the year.

        1. I think there’s still room for a better driver who cant beat Alonso over the course of a season. Alonso’s wingman needs to be someone who can finish directly behind him consistently and if something happens to Alonso that wingman needs to be able to take the position Alonso would have taken.

          1. @infy – whether you would get someone else of Massa’s calibre willing to devote his career to helping Alonso I’m not so sure though. It goes against a driver’s killer instinct which sadly Massa lacks, be it because of his accident or something else entirely.

          2. why cant anyone see through massa’s accident . it is not the reason for his bad form. in 08 he was winning with a good car and he was beating kimi most of the time. in 09 before his accident he was better than raikkenon. he came back in 2010 outqualifyed alonzo at bahrain and massa was leading championship after malasia. alonzo started beating massa and i believe that this destroyed massa mentaly(notably at germany because of the team) alonzo caused his slump in form not his accident. and i’m fed up of this no 2 rubbish. massa helped the team because he couldnt mathamaticly win the champ and i’m sure massa and alonzo will start 2013 equal. everyone can criticise massa for being a bad no 2 but alonzo hasnt been the best no 1(except this year he has been amazing) in 2010 he made crucial errors which cost him the championship(crash at aus,jump start at china,practise monaco crash,spa crashed out)

          3. I’m not sure I agree. A fast young driver could spend the first few years of his career driving for a mid-field team (without winning anything), or spend the same time driving as the support driver for Ferrari (same thing Massa did). When the older #1 driver retires, the younger chap will get his shot as the #1 driver in the team.

          4. @infy – good point, a couple of year’s wouldn’t damage a driver too much but as you’ve suggested they’d probably have to be a rookie. Personally, I’d prefer to try and get promoted from the junior team (in this case Sauber) but of course I’m no racing driver!

    2. davidnotcoulthard
      20th December 2012, 23:50

      What’s the definition of a true and unbiased F1 fan? It’s not like you can define that yourself. There are many definitions of a “true and unbiased” F1 fan, among others:

      Those who know about Peterson, von Trips, Ickx, and the “older” Villeneuve(I hope I spelled that one right)

      One that isn’t emotional and therefore posts top-quality comments on F1F

      One who does/doesn’t (depending on your opinion) mind the 2014 V6s

      One that can see that eam order is just part of F1

      One that can see that eam order is just as ridiculous as what Toleman did at the first Singaporean race in 2008.

      Those who know the difference between F1 and the World Championship

      Your description

      Therefore you can’t simply say that “A true F1 fan wants……” because it’s just so….subjective, because of which I disagree with you – from the 1st sentence.

      1. I can see your point, but I think that you have completely missed my point. I don’t know about you, but what I would like to see is the best drivers in the world going head to head in the best machinery. Clearly Massa isn’t able to compete on such a high level and therefore I find it disgraceful that Ferrari keep son retaining him even though he isn’t good enough for that seat.

  6. Funny Ferrari didn´t post all the quotes from Montezemola:

    “If, tomorrow, Fernando would withdraw for any reason – let’s say he moves to Hawaii with his girlfriend – then I would want Vettel,” laughed the fabled Maranello based team’s president, according to Auto Motor und Sport.

    But he also doesn’t spare his praise of German Vettel, who while contracted to Red Bull has been the subject of long speculation his future could be in red.

    “He’s young,” Montezemolo started, “he has his feet on the floor, and he has an indomitable will to win.

    “Schumacher made me aware of him years ago because he knew him from his karting years. I must say, Michael was right.”

    Montezemolo admitted Vettel, 25, is higher on Ferrari’s wish list than is Lewis Hamilton.

    “Because he is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton’s third team. And if you’ve reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.”

    Indeed, Montezemolo said he doesn’t even mind that Vettel accused Ferrari of playing “dirty tricks” in a bid to beat him to the 2012 title.

    “In the heat of battle,” said the Italian, “you can always say something emotional.”
    Montezemolo, however, appeared to rule out pairing Alonso with Vettel, saying that sort of star-studded lineup would be “difficult”.

    For now, that keeps Felipe Massa in a job, even though Montezemolo hinted he is keeping his eye on the next generation of potential Ferrari drivers.

    1. Thanks @celeste . I was wondering what would be Luca’s remarks about Seb’s dirty Tricks comments.
      Now that is cleared. Everyone is one big happy family.

      It looks like more than Imminent that Vettel is moving to Ferrari some day. The question is only when.

    2. interesting about the third team bit, if vettel joined it would be his fourth!

    3. gee, thanks for adding that @celeste, interesting

    4. Very interesting indeed! Although I assume it’s only a matter of time before someone comes here to tell us these quotes were invented by Auto Motor und Sport. ;-)

    5. “Because he is younger, and because Ferrari would be Hamilton’s third team. And if you’ve reached your third team, your career is already in its second half.”

      Dont tell that to Fernando ‘four teams’ Alonso!

      1. Five if you count Renault twice

        1. So according to di Montezemolo’s quotes, Fernando is on his ending second half so.

          Luca, no matter you are a boss, a businessman, a rich man: please think twice before talking

          1. Well, he is in the 2nd half of his career. He’s 31. Granted he could have another 10 in him but if he’s not in his 2nd half he is certainly brinking over the halfway mark that’s for sure!

      2. Funny thing is, it would be Vettel’s 4th team!

      3. it would also be sebastian’s third team, technically

        1. Not if you count his one race with BMW

          1. You could also count Red Bull & Torro Rosso as one team when it comes to driver development. Torro Rosso is simply the ‘holding pen’ for new Red Bull drivers. It’s all one organisation really.

          2. @oel-f1 @mnm101 I think most people count Red Bull/Toro Rosso as only one team and he only ran a race with BMW

            @aka_robyn I think someone from the telegraph twitter about the interview earlier than the article that I posted, so it was an international media event…

      4. Nonsense statement. Even Schumacher was technically in his 3rd time by the time he reached Ferrari.

      5. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        20th December 2012, 22:47

        @george hahaha great comment mate

    6. Ferrari just obviously like Germans!

  7. Of course they kept him, i mean who could they have possibly replaced him with. Known driver is better than unknown driver.

  8. Keeping Massa was the right decision if you never want to win a WCC. Ferrari need to remember the WCC is the one that pays the bills, not the WDC.

    1. You’re absolutely right! It must suck being a tifosi right now.

    2. It’s kind of ironic how quote: “the best team” doesn’t seem too bothered about winning the constructors championship.

    3. They outright said that they aren’t interested in the WCC though. The WDC is what they really want. They were quite displeased with 2008 after all.

      1. Unlike virtually every other team, Ferrari doesn’t need to win the WCC in order to make boatloads of cash.

        And it’s not like they are really hurting, they did win the WCC in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2004, 2007 and 2008. Poor McLaren hasn’t won it since 1998.

        Massa is undeniably good enough to keep that seat and if Ferrari can reach any kind of consistency, keeping the man who has won 11 races for them in the past will pay off next season.

        It is one thing to know how an F1 team works and operates, but Ferrari works and operates in its own way. I find much of the bemoaning and complaining of the fans lies in large part to their ignorance on the history and workings of Ferrari.

  9. As I’ve said before this is down to a completely different team structure. I find Montozemolo’s quote saying that an Alonso/Vettel driver pairing would be “difficult” telling of this: Ferrari clearly prioritise one driver so in essence the second car acts as a wingman to aid the number 1 car or take up the battle if the no.1 is down and out.

    Red Bull have no clear prioritisation though: if Webber is faster than Vettel then he is allowed to retain his advantage, unlike Massa. So it is entirely unrstandable that Luca and Christian would have different opinions on the decision to retain Massa; they work for completly different teams.

    1. Red Bull have no clear prioritisation though: if Webber is faster than Vettel then he is allowed to retain his advantage, unlike Massa

      I strongly disagree we have seen a lot of times how Red Bull were favoring Vettel over Mark (“mark maintain the gap”, “not bad for a n°2 driver”…..)

      In a recent interview to Auto Motor Und Sport Seb said that the exhaust solution that the team brought in the Chinese GP was the best that maximized the downforce but because it didn’t suit his driving style the team dropped and adapted a new solution that suited him very well
      The RB8 was updated to suit Vettel’s driving style what do we call that ??? equal treatment ????
      BTW if i was in the same position as Christian Horner i will do the same thing after all they are free to run the team in their own way, it is not a crime to support one driver over another especially if he’s able to fight for the championship
      Ferrari policy have been always clear the driver that will have more chance to win WDC will have the support from his team mate in 2007 Massa helped Kimi and in 2008 Kimi helped Massa
      Massa raised his game only in the last races when it doesn’t count anymore that’s why he was not allowed to race Alonso
      When Red Bull are favoring Seb “they are professionals fair and they are not using team orders”……
      But when it comes to Ferrari it becomes always dramatic “dirty tricks ,team orders ,they are cheating” ……….

      1. @tifoso1989 – obviously the car can only be developed to one driver’s style as the sheer amount a resources to do otherwise would be immense – it just so happens Vettel has been able to establish himself as the better driver.

        I don’t think it’s very arguable that Red Bull clearly care about the constructors much more than Ferrari which was my point of the consequent driver pairings.

      2. davidnotcoulthard
        20th December 2012, 23:58

        But when it comes to Ferrari it becomes always dramatic “dirty tricks ,team orders ,they are cheating

        But oddly enough only in the comments section of any website!

      3. Alonso THE Great
        21st December 2012, 7:49

        Nice post Tifoso 1989

        You have hit the nail on it’s head

        Max jacobson either have short or selective memory

        Red bull favour vettel at any cost. Tifoso 1989 have pointed out some very good example. Red bull are very good and clever in manipulating the rules.

        Webber have pushed vettel all the way in 2010 and in 2012 webber lead vettel until summer break when RBR was behind mclaren. Vettel drove better in the laste few races when RBR pulled away from mclaren

        1. @vettel1

          Red Bull have no clear prioritisation though: if Webber is faster than Vettel then he is allowed to retain his advantage, unlike Massa.

          I’d say that’s down to Massa not outpacing Alonso at all, or at least not until it is far too late to close the points margin or fight for the title.


          The RB8 was updated to suit Vettel’s driving style what do we call that ??? equal treatment ????

          The car was updated to make the car faster. Even Mark said that. Unless Webber’s “driving style” is to drive the car slowly.

          1. @david-a of course it is a rare occasion to see Massa clearly faster than Alonso but again I was more so aiming at the different team structures: Red Bull would be foolish to use Massa’s services in my opinion.

        2. @Alonso THE Great

          Webber have pushed vettel all the way in 2010 and in 2012

          Technically he did in 2010, mostly thanks to Vettel’s car unreliability at crucial points of the season. But not in 2012, where he was 100 points off.

      4. Also, not once did I say Ferrari were cheating – they to never cheat. I may not persoanlly approve of deliberately breaking a teammates gearbox but I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same if that situation were to occur.

        I’m getting the impression that you’ve rather blown my comment out of proportion.

      5. @tifoso1989 wrong Vettel said that the new exaust have more downforce the team continue with the system that didn´t adjust to Vettel driving style.

        Even Webber say so

  10. Nothing will prove right or wrong until the start of the next season.

    1. Until the end of next season when we review Massa’s entire season.

  11. Quite amazing really to think that Massa is entering his 8th season with Ferrari – 2nd only to Schumacher as the longest-serving Ferrari F1 driver.

  12. Dear Mr Domenicali

    “Massa’s important points late in the season proved vital to Ferrari finishing second in the Constructors Championship”.

    Wake up mate it was his lack of points scored in the first 16 races of the season that put your second place in jeopardy.

    Wonder if Massa would have survived if he wasn’t managed by Nicholas Todt?

  13. It’s interesting to see the amount of passionate comments (pro and cons) we see here every time there’s news about Massa.

  14. Well of course Luca would say it was a good decision, since he’s the one footing Felipe’s multi million dollar a year contract! He’s not going to come out and say he made a bad decision now would he? Ask him at the end of of next season a lets see what he says.

    I am not a Ferrari fan, I dont support teams (ok I have had a soft spot for Williams since the late 90s), I support drivers. I am a big fan for Alonso and have been since the 06 season. Looking at all the comments, it is obvious there is a lot of passion here, haters and lovers alike.

    Lets look at is rationally. Ferrari are a team that have always preferred a one dominant driver, this is their team policy, they have implemented this over the course of their entire existence, and you have to say, they have been reasonably successful. An F1 team is a company, more so nowadays than it ever was, and who are we to say how a particular company is run? Every company’s goal is to make profit, and in the F1 world, profit is directly proportionate to winning.

    I would like to re-emphasize the words “one dominant driver”. They obviously feel a lot more confident when there is a driver that can build a team around him, its almost as if they expect this from their lead driver. Fernando provides the perfect mold for this, while Felipe doesnt. In all the years that Felipe has raced for Ferrari, he has not shown any leadership capabilities whatsoever, and this cannot be denied, because there isnt any proof t suggest otherwise. Dont get me wrong, I think Felipe is a quality driver, but he doesnt have the mental strength to lead. While he may succeed at a lesser team, he just isnt good enough to be at the sharp end.

    I can be very sure that if Felipe starts next year as he did this one, he will surely be out for 2014. Ferrari need him to take points off Alonso’s opponents, thats what they want him to do. Its no secret that Ferrari dont value the Contructors’ because they get a bigger chunk of the pie anyways.

    The point Im trying to make is, Ferrari should operate in whatever way they see fit. Just like any company, you set your KPIs at the start of the year and are expected to do whatever it takes to achieve them. So in their case, its almost definitely to win the WDC, and their best resource at achieving Fernando Alonso.

  15. Massa clearly has the underlying skill that Ferrari recognised in the first place and they clearly feel that he has not lost that ability, but they have not been managing him properly to extract what they saw in him. As a manager ( in any walk of life) if you believe you have that motivational ability you would not instantly sack an under performing team member. It is also true that any change will result in months of bedding in of new management structures which may be a less palatable alternative. Buttons slump (although shorter) was a clear illustration of this. Will Torres continue to play for Chelsea,is Martin O,Neil still a great manager? you can add your own list of examples!

  16. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner recently queried Ferrari’s decision to keep Massa and said he would not have done the same.

    I find that amusing considering Massa outscored Weber by 40 points over the final 10 races despite driving an inferior car and moving over to help his team mate, something Mark clearly avoided until he absolutely had to.

    A simple analysis reveals that over the second half of the year Massa was performing, points wise on a level similar to all of the top 6 drivers other than Weber who he and the others significantly outscored and Vettel who significantly outscored everyone else.

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