Domenicali: Massa can bounce back

Date published: March 30 2012

Stefano Domenicali has backed Felipe Massa to prove his worth and rise to the current challenge facing him – after all, he’s done it before…

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali has backed Felipe Massa to prove his worth and rise to the current challenge facing him – after all, he’s done it before.

Massa’s place at the team appears in jeopardy as he has consistently failed to come close to matching the efforts of team-mate Fernando Alonso, mixing it up in the midfield instead of challenging for podiums.

Last season, Alonso claimed eight podium places and an additional race win, a run that saw him finish fourth in the Drivers’ standings. In the same car Massa failed to finish in the top three once and finished sixth in the Drivers’ standings, 139 points adrift of Alonso.

The current campaign hasn’t started much better for Massa either, as he retired in Australia and finished 15th in Malaysia while Alonso came in fifth in the season opener and claimed an unlikely win last time out.

This differing performance added to the top drive delivered by Sergio Perez (a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy) in Malaysia has led to speculation that Massa may be replaced at some stage during the season.

However, Domenicali has likened the current situation to Massa’s plight in 2008 when he failed to finish the first two races of the season.

“I well remember that, four years ago, in fact right after a Malaysian Grand Prix, which was won for us by Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe was more or less in the same situation as today,” the Italian told Ferrari’s official website.

“The papers were demanding his immediate replacement and he managed to react in the best way possible, thanks to support from the team, which saw him win two of the next three races. We remember how that particular season ended, with the Brazilian actually world champion, even if it was just for a few seconds, while we took our sixteenth Constructors’ title.”

Domenicali has revealed that a determined Massa has changed his schedule for the two-week break between races in order rectify the situation.

Felipe has changed his plans and, instead of heading home to see his family in Brazil, he will be in Maranello tomorrow to work alongside the engineers to calmly analyse everything that happened in these past two races, trying to identify why he was not able to deliver what he is capable of,” he said.

“That’s the right spirit and we are here, ready to help him.”