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Domenicali: Ferrari 'right' to retain Massa

January 17, 2013 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Formula One driver Felipe Massa joined Ferrari from Sauber in 2006.
Formula One driver Felipe Massa joined Ferrari from Sauber in 2006.
  • Stefano Domenicali says Ferrari "right" to keep Felipe Massa as a driver
  • Massa struggled in the first half of last season, but picked up 98 points from September
  • The Brazilian signed a one-year contract extension with Ferrari in October
  • The 2013 Formula One season starts in Australia in March

(CNN) -- Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has defended the Italian constructor's decision to retain the services of Brazilian driver Felipe Massa for the 2013 season.

Massa's future was the subject of much speculation after he failed to score a point in the first three races of 2012 and went on to collect just 25 points prior to the sport's annual midseason break at the end of July.

But Massa, who has been with Ferrari since 2006, recovered in the second half of the campaign to score 98 points and record two podium finishes, ending the year seventh in the drivers' championship.

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Domenicali is convinced Massa has turned the corner, showing the form he displayed before fracturing his skull when a spring struck his helmet at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Read: Ferrari chief - "Ecclestone era coming to an end"

"I think the toughest part of Felipe's career is now behind him," Domenicali told Ferrari's official website, when asked about the 31-year-old.

"After last summer his approach turned about and, as a result, his performance on track changed and he managed to show just how talented he is.

"I'm sure his problem was not linked to his contractual situation. Personally, there was a lot of pressure on me regarding possible changes, but in the interests of the team, I preferred to wait and today, I'm convinced that keeping Felipe in the Ferrari family was the right decision."

Massa signed a new one-year deal with the most successful team in F1 history in October, although he admits he did consider turning his back on the sport when he was struggling for pace.

"I thought about so many things," Massa, who lost out on the 2008 world championship on the final corner of the final race, told BBC Sport.

"I thought maybe I was finished. I thought about not staying in Ferrari. I did not know what would happen. So many things were inside my brain.

"Many people said I was just using fuel at the beginning of the year and then after they want me to stay in Ferrari because it was the best option. It is important to work to get the good result. If you have that nothing else is important."

Massa and teammate Fernando Alonso, who lost out on the 2012 drivers' title to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel on the final day of the season, will be hoping to make a strong start to the 2013 campaign when the season begins in Australia in March.

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