Felipe Massa's Future: What's Next for Ferrari's No. 2 Driver
Ferrari No. 2 Driver Felipe Massa may have raced himself out of a job with his poor showing at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. Massa finished a disappointing 15th while teammate Fernando Alonso stole the show with a victory in Sepang driving the same car.
Massa's career has been on a downward path since finishing in second, one point shy of the championship, in 2008. The accident in Hungary in 2009 and the switch to Pirelli are two possible causes for the turn in fortunes for Massa.
The Italian team have been unimpressed with Massa's start to the season, and with Ferrari having an unusually poor car this season, they may look to make a switch sooner rather than later in order to be better prepared for 2013.
The No. 2 driver at Ferrari will always be a thankless position; ask Rubens Barichello about the baggage that comes along with it. A change of scenery might be best for all parties involved.
Here are three possible scenarios for Massa.
Massa and Perez Swap Rides
Sauber driver Sergio Perez is seen as Felipe Massa's replacement at Ferrari. The Mexican driver finished an amazing second in Malaysia and would have probably won the race had it not been for a mistake in the closing laps.
The easiest solution for Massa would be to swap seats with Perez. It would finally give Massa an opportunity to be a No. 1 driver and a chance to race without the pressure that comes with being a Ferrari driver.
Sauber-Ferrari have a decent car, one that may be better than Ferrari at this moment, and could use someone with the experience Massa brings to the table to solidify the team.
With a limited number of rides opening up next season, Sauber might be Massa's best and only choice if he wishes to stay in F1.
Massa Comes to America
Massa's body language and demeanor is that of someone who is jaded. He doesn't seem to have the same passion or vigor he had during his first few seasons in F1.
Maybe a move to the states would rekindle his passion for racing. It is not a move without precedent.
Fellow South American Juan Pablo Montoya is plying his trade in NASCAR with mixed results. The man Massa replaced at Ferrari, Rubens Barichello, is currently driving in Indy Car.
Both series would love to have the experience and international exposure Massa would bring to their sport, but it remains to be seen if Massa would be interested in such a move.
Massa Stays with Ferrari
It is entirely possible Massa could remain at Ferrari this season and beyond. The Brazilian is not necessarily known for his great starts to the season, and there is still plenty of time to turn things around.
A few good results, starting with the Chinese Grand Prix, could ease some of the pressure facing Massa. Obviously, Massa is not at the level of Alonso, but if he can start making up some of the time he lost to the Spaniard, he could find himself back in the good graces of the Ferrari bosses.
It seems unlikely now, but Massa faced the same kind of pressure in 2008 only to respond with spectacular drives as the season progressed.