Ferrari boss di Montezemolo says keeping Massa was the right call
|By Jonathan Noble||Thursday, December 20th 2012, 16:35 GMT|
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has no doubts that his team did the right thing in handing Felipe Massa a fresh contract for 2013.
Although the Brazilian driver had a lacklustre start to the campaign, he improved dramatically over the second half of the year to secure his future at Maranello.
That move was questioned at the time, with some reckoning Ferrari should have gone for a younger driver, but di Montezemolo is totally convinced about the decision.
"The Brazilian improved a great deal in the second half: in fact in the first part, it seemed he'd gone on a round the world holiday!" said di Montezemolo during his annual Christmas lunch with media at Maranello this week.
"Joking apart, I think the decision to reconfirm his position was the right one. If we had changed, then one would need to take on someone who would make a difference and I can't say I noticed many drivers around who would be quicker than Felipe.
"Also, we did not want to change the balance and the good atmosphere within the team. Domenicali and I told ourselves it was best to wait and I think that the facts proved us right.
"Towards the end, when Felipe was even faster than Fernando a couple of times, the points he scored played a vital part in securing our place in the constructors' championship."
Reflecting on the season just gone, di Montezemolo admitted that there was disappointment about the team just missing out on the championship - but that it should also realise it did a great job too.
"You can see the glass as half full or half empty, but clearly there is great regret," he added.
"Because the outcome went down to the wire, because after that first lap in Brazil, maybe things could have turned out differently, because Fernando went on holiday at the start of the summer break with a 40 point lead over his closest challenger and because, when it came to collisions, we were forced to retire, while others kept going as if nothing had happened.
"However, the biggest regret is that we did not have a car that was quick enough to win the world championship.
"On the glass half full side, we had amazing reliability which allowed us to come second in the constructors' championship despite the fact McLaren was quicker than us and despite the fact that, in the first half of the season we pretty much only had Alonso's points to count on.
"There were those great starts and pit stops and the fact Fernando had an extraordinary season, the best since he has been in Formula 1.
"Next year, let's hope we can say it was our best season, given that we want to give him and Felipe a car that's competitive right from the start."