x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Ferrari urge Felipe Massa to emulate Canada display

Teammate Alonso is also hoping for a change of fortune in front of his home fans in Valencia.

Felipe Massa at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
Felipe Massa at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

Stefano Domenicali, the Ferrari team principal, has urged Felipe Massa to reproduce his never-say-die display in Canada on a more consistent basis.

Although Massa has a contract for next season, that has not stopped rumours circulating as to his future with the Italian manufacturer after a poor start to the year.

Prior to Montreal, Massa had qualified no higher than sixth and finished no better than fifth before a third-placed start at the Canadian Grand Prix afforded him a shot at the podium.

However, an attempt at passing a backmarker saw Massa lose grip on a wet part of the track, clipping a wall and damaging the front wing.

Despite that setback Massa ploughed on, and in a dramatic finish managed to beat Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi on the line for sixth place.

"That is what we want to see from Felipe," Domenicali said. "It's why I'm always pushing when we have difficult moments, saying that we need to deliver because we believe in him. In Canada he did a great job because he didn't give up, even in the last few centimetres of the race.

"That is what I want to see from him from now up until the end of the season. It's very important for him, but also for the team."

A change in fortune for Ferrari this weekend would also not go amiss as the race in Canada was a case of whatever could go wrong did go wrong after their best qualifying performance of the season.

Fernando Alonso, Massa's teammate, has not had much luck in the European Grand Prix either, since winning it with Renault in 2007. The Spaniard is convinced he is long overdue a better run in front of his home fans in Valencia.

After his last two races proved competitive but frustrating due to safety car periods, the double world champion remains tantalisingly close to a first win of the year.

He might have done it in Monaco, but the race was stopped as he was poised to challenge Red Bull-Racing's Sebastian Vettel for the lead, and then in Montreal he lost out in a collision with Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes' eventual winner.

"I know that our fans are eagerly awaiting our first win of the season and I can assure you that the same goes for us," the Spaniard told the Ferrari website ahead of the eighth round of the season.

"At the last two races, we showed we were clearly capable of winning and, especially in Monaco, we came pretty close, although I believe that even in Canada I could have fought for it all the way to the end, given what we had seen in qualifying.

"Now we go to a track with reasonably similar characteristics to Montreal and there is no obvious reason why we should not be competitive here too," said Alonso, who is fifth overall and 92 points behind champion Vettel.

* Agencies