In what seems to be a desperate move, Ferrari are flying out a new F2012 chassis to Malaysia for Felipe Massa.
Apparently, they just want to eliminate the remote possibility that it wasn’t some imperceptible flaw in his existing chassis that was responsible for his dreadful performance in Melbourne (insert raised eyebrow here).
It comes as no surprise to Formula One fans that Ferrari’s 2012 car is absolute rubbish. Ferrari themselves have been telling anyone who would listen not to expect too much from the car for at least the first half of the year.
After the Australian Grand Prix, there was no longer any doubt that it wasn’t all part of some elaborate rouse to outsmart their competitors.
It turns out that they lulled everyone in to an actual sense of security.
But if we accept that the car is as bad as Ferrari have been telling us, then how can we account for the disparity between Fernando Alonso and Massa.
In qualifying, Massa barely made it into the second period of qualifying, whereas Alonso looked on target to get into the top 10—until he parked it in the gravel, that is.
Alonso delivered the car home for a very creditable fifth place. Massa, after playing dodgem cars at the back of the field, damaged his car and didn’t finish the race. At least Lewis Hamilton wasn’t around to take the blame.
Of course, Alonso was a little lucky to secure fifth and had to rely on a bit of attrition. The fact remains, however, that he delivered against the odds—something that Massa no longer seems capable of.
Team boss Stefano Domenicali, and Technical Director Pat Fry returned to Maranello for crisis talks. A major part of those discussion would have revolved around the car, but it’s difficult to believe that Massa’s complete absence of form didn’t come up at some point.
On the car front, there’s only two main issues—speed and traction.
That should be easy to fix!
With Massa, however, it seems that patience is running out. Bringing in a new chassis smacks of desperation, and while they’re keen to be seen standing by their man, you can’t help get the feeling that somewhere a knife is being sharpened.
The Italian press has already anointed former driver Jarno Trulli as the likely successor according to YallaF1.com.
Trulli has two things in his favour. One, he’s Italian, which always helps at Ferrari and, two, he’s available. As an aside, hiring Trulli would also redress the fact that F1 currently doesn’t have an Italian driver on the grid for the first time since 1969.
But it’s hard to see how hiring Trulli would be that much of an advantage over Massa. The fact that he currently doesn’t have a drive tells you all you need to know.
The reality is that while Alonso pulled out a creditable performance, it was overly flattering and Ferrari has a long way to go. Not all of the blame can be laid at the feet of the drivers.
Massa is a liability to the team on current (and last year’s) form. It’s one thing to have a clear No. 1 driver, but the other bloke needs to know what he’s doing to help develop the car.
At the moment, Ferrari need all the help they can get.