Ferrari: Sergio Perez and the 4 Drivers Most Likely to Replace Felipe Massa

Will ProtheroeContributor IIIMarch 31, 2012

Ferrari: Sergio Perez and the 4 Drivers Most Likely to Replace Felipe Massa

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    With the Formula 1 season only two races old, the wolves are already out for Ferrari's Felipe Massa.

    After he ended last season without one podium appearance, becoming the first Ferrari driver since Ivan Capelli in 1992 to fail to achieve that feat, the pressure was always going to be on Massa in 2012.

    The Brazilian endured a torrid time in Australia two weeks ago.

    The weekend began with him spinning out in practice, he then qualified in a poor 16th place. The race brought even more gloom.

    Massa struggled to make any headway and then retired after a collision with Williams' Bruno Senna.

    Both Ferrari and Massa have shrugged off all of the speculation. Team Principal Stefano Domenicali has defended his driver.

    "I well remember four years ago Felipe was more or less in the same situation as today. The papers demanded his replacement but he ended up world champion, even if for just a few seconds."

    While Massa wants to appear confidence, The Independent reported that he has been putting in extra hours at Ferrari's base in Maranello.

    If Ferrari do decide to get rid of Massa, it poses the immediate problem of who would replace him.

    Here are the four drivers most likely to get a call if Massa loses his drive.

4. Jarno Trulli

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    If there's one thing Ferrari like, it's an Italian driver.

    Jarno Trulli has the advantage of working with Fernando Alonso during his Renault years.

    He played the part of the No. 2 driver then and Alonso may be pushing for his former teammate to get the drive.

    However, the rumours that have circulated regarding Trulli were all attributed to Italian publication Autosprint. It may just be wishful thinking on their part due to the lack of current Italian drivers.

3. Adrian Sutil

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    After leaving Force India last season, there was some momentum around the idea of Adrian Sutil going to Ferrari.

    He is now arguably the most talented driver who does not have an F1 seat.

    However, after Sutil was involved in a nightclub brawl that left Lotus team co-owner Eric Lux needing 24 stitches in a neck wound, speculation has died down.

    Sutil drove extremely well last season, but the downside could be too much for Ferrari to risk it.

2. Rubens Barrichello

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    Who has more experience than this man?

    It is well known that Ferrari were fond of the popular Brazilian during his time with the team, and there is no one else who could bring as much knowledge to the team.

    Ferrari are struggling with chassis problems and Barrichello's years of experience could benefit the team.

    People may wonder why Rubens would want to go back to being the No. 2 driver at Ferrari, but after the struggles he went to at the end of last year to stay in F1, he would jump at the chance to drive for any team.

    After the career that he had, Rubens deserves a better send off than he had with Williams, maybe he could get that back with Ferrari.

1. Sergio Perez

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    The driver most talked about has been Sauber's Sergio Perez.

    After his stunning drive in Sepang, rumours surrounding Perez have been almost unstoppable.

    All of the factors seem to be in place for the Mexican to be the perfect man to replace Massa.

    Perez is already part of the Ferrari family as part of their young driver's program, meaning he has tested for the team.

    At 22, he also has the most time ahead of him, but could his inexperience work against him?

    If Ferrari do decide to dispense with Massa, they may well want someone who could fit into a team with as little work as possible.

    They may see Perez as part of their long-term plans, but a mid-season swap could work against the Mexican.

    Agree with my picks? Anyone I've missed out? Comment below.