Felipe Massa to stay at Ferrari until end of 2013 at least
Ferrari hope move will quash speculation linking them with Sebastian Vettel
Announcement also made in bid to help Fernando Alonso win first Ferrari drivers' title since 2007
Felipe Massa will stay at Ferrari until the end of the 2013 season after extending his contract with the stable by one year.
The Brazilian, who followed up his first podium finish in two years at Suzuka by finishing fourth in Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix, agreed the deal after meeting with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo at Maranello on Tuesday morning.
“I am very happy to have reached this agreement,” Massa, who has been with Ferrari since 2006, told the team’s official website.
“Ferrari is my racing family and throughout my entire time in Formula 1, I have always driven cars powered by engines built in Maranello: I can’t see myself driving cars propelled by anything else!”
The announcement comes a day after Di Montezemolo attempted to quash media reports linking Germany’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel with a move to Ferrari in 2014 by saying he didn’t want “two roosters in the same hen house”.
With two-time champion Fernando Alonso currently Ferrari’s number one driver, the long-standing chief of the Italian firm explained his comments by saying that he wanted two drivers who would be racing “for Ferrari and not for themselves.”
In their statement, Ferrari said that “one of the reasons that pushed Montezemolo and Massa to decide on announcing the renewal today (was) to put an end to all the speculation.”
The constructor added that it hopes that the decision to finalize the 2013 line-up in plenty of time will help Alonso focus on winning Ferrari’s first drivers’ championship since Kimi Räikkönen won the title in 2007.
The Spaniard currently lies second in the championship standing – his tally of 209 points just six fewer than Vettel’s with four races of the season left – while Massa is down in ninth place with 81 points, 30 of which have come in the last fortnight.
“He has been part of our family for over a decade and has shown, especially in this recent part of the season, that he is once again competitive at the highest level, which is what is expected of every driver who gets behind the wheel of a Ferrari,” said Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicai.
“We have always supported Felipe, even in the most difficult moments of his career and we are certain of his worth and are sure he will know how to repay the confidence this renewal proves we have in him.”
One of the most testing moments in Massa’s career came when he suffered severe head injuries after a crash in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, with Ferrari leaving the Brazilian’s place open ahead of his return the following season.