Felipe Massa has had a terrible start to his 2012 campaign. Since testing began, it was clear that Massa and Ferrari were far from where they wanted to be. Massa had a similar season to Mark Webber in 2011 in that they were both overshadowed by their team mates at nearly every grand prix weekend. Arguably, Felipe Massa has not been the same driver since his accident in 2009. Ferrari have warned Massa that if he is not able to turn his performances around, he will not be hanging on to his seat at Ferrari for long.
His first two races in 2012 show signs that he may not be able to raise his game to match that of his teammate Alonso. He has failed to score a single point in the first two races, while Alonso currently sits atop the driver’s standings. Clearly then, there is something to be said for the gap in performance between the two drivers.
Ferrari struggled to keep up with the front runners in 2011, and are now in a similar, possibly worse position at the beginning of the 2012 season. Despite their win in Malaysia, Ferrari would be the first to admit that their car is not quick enough. Luckily, they have Fernando Alonso at their disposal, who will drive any car to a strong result, as he showed in both Australia and Malaysia.
If Ferrari want to bring themselves back to the top of the order, they need two top drivers. McLaren have two top drivers with Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, as do Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. At these teams, all drivers consistently deliver strong results. At Ferrari, it is only Alonso who delivers strong results, and it seems that Felipe Massa is clinging on to a seat that should belong to someone else, and is dragging down the team.
In my opinion, Felipe needs to be replaced. Ferrari can not afford to house a driver who does not bring them any benefits. But who could replace the Brazilian driver and score points for Ferrari? Based on the poor performances from Massa, several drivers would fit the bill. Sergio Perez, a top driver in the Ferrari driver academy, seems to be a promising opportunity for Ferrari to capitalize on a young talent. By scoring second in Malaysia, he became the first Mexican driver to score a podium since 1971. He had great pace and consistency in Malaysia, chasing down Alonso the whole time, while Massa was floundering outside of the points. If I were at Ferrari, I would be looking to hire Sergio Perez for a seat in 2013 or sooner.