You do not have to be a genius to realise that Felipe Massa is in trouble. He is. Since his horrific crash at the Hungaroring in 2009, he has not shown the form that almost gave him the world championship – in 2008. The margins on that occasion were heartbreakingly slim, losing the championship by only one point to Lewis Hamilton. Felipe’s post Interlagos ’08 career has however seen margins of the gigantic sort. Since his life threatening crash in Hungary he has not won a single race and has only achieved five podiums, all of which were in 2010.
Just how he has kept his seat at Ferrari is the question on most people’s mind. Surely a world famous team such as they, cannot be happy with such frequent lacklustre performances. That’s especially when you compare it to the results that his double world champion team mate, Fernando Alonso, is achieving.
With Alonso arguably in the form of his life, and Felipe, arguably in the worst of his, it is inevitable that rumours have begun to surface, that the Brazilian will effectively be usurped. The first man to be touted as a potential in season replacement for Massa was Italian Jarno Trulli, the next was the affable, former Ferrari driver, Rubens Barrichello. Then, after Sergio Perez’ amazing performance at Malaysia, finishing in second just behind Fernando Alonso, rumour abounded that Perez could get Massa’s seat at any time.
However, with the rather unconvincing assertion from Maranello that Massa will remain at Ferrari until the end of the season; thoughts have turned to who may replace him should the likely scenario of his Italian departure bear fruition. Aussie driver Mark Webber, no stranger to being linked with Ferrari, is favourite to take up the position at the prestigious Scuderia Ferrari – should it become available. Although this may seem a tempting prospect to many, as a keen follower of Mark’s career, I sincerely hope he does not do this. I strongly believe that Red Bull are happy with their current driver line up, especially seen as this year, Webber seems to have reigned in the chasm that stood between him and Sebastian Vettel in 2011. He deserves huge credit for this; credit that should be acknowledged by Red Bull by showing a persistence to retain him for 2013.
This is only my view, and quite rightly you would think of what Mark’s views would be. Moving to Ferrari may seem a no brainer for some, but it should evoke more thought than some would perceive. First off, you have to look at Ferrari’s principles. Ferrari has a habit of picking a favourite driver and throwing their other driver to the lions. For example, look at what happened with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in the early 2000′s; their worship of Schumacher, although yielding staggering result, made F1 somewhat stale at times.
However, those occurrences are not a thing of the past, you only have to look back to 2010 and the infamous “Fernando is faster than you” message that Massa was given whilst leading the German Grand Prix. Of course, Felipe obeyed the direct order and moved over for his team-mate to pass him and allowing him to win the race.
As someone who loves to see Mark Webber do well, I would hate to see him restricted in such a manner. Now, before you begin to question my argument, I have not forgotten about Silverstone 2011 during which Webber was told to “maintain the gap” between he and second placed Vettel. However, true to his character, he did not pay attention and tried to pass Vettel, albeit unsuccessfully. Red Bull did not punish Mark for his refusal to obey the order, but surely, if he directly defied the Ferrari pit wall, they would not take it lightly.
One of the many quirks of Mark Webber is that people love his willingness to speak his mind. If he is performing badly, he will tell you. If the car is bad, he will tell you. If he is angry with the team, again, he will tell you. Red Bull seem pretty flexible on the subject however I have my doubts as to whether Ferrari would be similarly acceptant. You can go back to the days of Alain Prost’s stint at the Ferrari between 1990 and 1991 for evidence to support this; he took the bold step of criticising his car. The result? Well let’s just say it was sabbatical time for the Frenchmen. Even a driver as talented, as technically efficient could not withstand the wrath of Ferrari, so why should Webber fair any different? Ferrari do not differentiate between young upstart and seasoned world champion; disunity in the ranks is simply not tolerated, they are an institution and boy do they act like it.
I would be disappointed to see Mark Webber swap the blue of Red Bull for the red of Ferrari in 2013. I think it could well be a disastrous end to a successful Formula 1 career. Any lingering hopes of crowning a last hurrah with a world championship would be pretty much nil, with Alonso as his team-mate. Whenever Mark’s time is up at Red Bull, which I for one hope will be a long time yet, I think it would be time to hang up his racing gloves. Nevertheless, let’s see.