Felipe Massa has vowed to return to winning ways after being told he must deliver “something special” to make up for two years of under-achievement at Ferrari.
The Brazilian’s claim to one of the most sought-after seats in Formula 1 has come under scrutiny following a 47-race winless streak dating back to the final round of the 2008 season – the same day he famously lost out on the world title to Lewis Hamilton by one point.
A fractured skull suffered in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix curtailed Massa’s 2009 campaign, while in each of the past two seasons he struggled to match the pace of his twice world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso.
Speaking at the launch of the team’s new car, the F2012, Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo again warned time was now running out for Massa, who has driven for the team since 2006 and is in the final year of his contract.
“As for Massa, he knows as well as we know that he has to do something great, and something special, after a non-positive season,” said Di Montezemolo.
“He’s got all of the ingredients necessary for getting top results.”
Massa hopes the team’s “aggressive” new car will help him to maximise the performance of Pirelli’s tyres – something that he has often highlighted as the reason for his lack of performance relative to Alonso.
“It looks really, really aggressive,” Massa said after taking the wraps off the team’s new challenger yesterday.
“I know there has been plenty of brainstorming when it comes to this new car. This is going to be quite an important year for me and the whole team.
“This is going to be the victory year. We want to fight to get the championship back.
“I want to start the season in the right way and get to the end of the championship in an even better way.”
Hispania Racing have completed their driver line-up for the new Formula 1 season as Narain Karthikeyan returns to the cockpit.
Karthikeyan competed in the first eight grands prix last season.