Massa Move Gets Mixed Reaction

Ferrari's decision to sign Felipe Massa as Michael Schumacher's teammate has received mixed reactions from World Champions and former Formula One drivers

Massa Move Gets Mixed Reaction

"A right choice for Ferrari because he's young and has a big will to prove himself," said Keke Rosberg, World Champion in 1982. "Up to now he hasn't performed badly and can only improve."

Three-times champion Nelson Piquet also backed the move, saying Massa could be leading Ferrari once Schumacher retires.

"He doesn't race bad and he'll be able to improve at Ferrari because Schumacher won't be racing forever," Piquet told Gazzetta dello Sport. "He should know he's playing a card for his future."

Although no details about the contract have been released, Gazzetta dello Sport reports that Massa has been signed only for one year. Ferrari had an option on Massa since 2001, when the young Brazilian made his Formula One debut by testing for Sauber.

Massa's current teammate at Sauber, former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, said he was happy for him.

"Felipe with me in the team has always worked calmly," he said. "I wish for him he can carry on doing that... I'm happy for him."

24-year old Massa will replace compatriot Rubens Barrichello, whom triple World Champion Niki Lauda believes is faster than the Sauber driver. The Austrian, however, said time is on Massa's side to improve.

"Neither good nor bad [move]; middle of the road I'd say," Lauda said. "Barrichello is faster but Massa has age on his side, so he might improve."

Former Grand Prix winner John Watson, meanwhile, believed Barrichello's exit was not good for Ferrari.

"He [Massa] is their best option. Whether the team is weaker as a result of Barrichello going, I suspect it is," Watson told BBC Sport.

Watson also said Massa will have to play second fiddle to Schumacher, or he will risk being dumped.

"As long as Michael is under contract there is no chance of any other driver coming in and being given equal status," he said. "So Ferrari's options, in reality, are very restricted.

"They could go with an unknown, but probably the most logical thing to do is what they have done, which is take someone who they do have experience of from the year's testing he did in 2003, and who, while he is a very quick driver, I have never been able to work him out.

"Obviously he's capable, but he looks like a chubby kid. He used to drive like an on-off switch.

"If he doesn't fulfil Ferrari's needs, in other words if he thinks he's going to take on Michael and beat him, he will be very quickly dumped," Watson added.

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