Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo has urged a team effort and told Felipe Massa to finally deliver ahead of Sunday's Monaco Formula One Grand Prix which the famed Italian team has not won in 11 years.
While Fernando Alonso is joint championship leader on 61 points with title holder Sebastian Vettel of the Red Bull team, the Brazilian veteran Massa is languishing in 17th place with two points from five races.
Di Montezemolo, in an open letter to the team this week titled “the championship is in our own hands,” said that Ferrari must make the most of a so far unpredictable season which has seen five different winners from as many teams.
“The championship is very open and so far, there has not been one dominant force. A series of circumstances and the work done here to improve the car, as well as Alonso's great ability, has led to us leading the championship after five rounds,” di Montezemolo said.
“We must capitalize on that, with each one of us giving our very best at home and at the race track, including Massa who must bring home the results we expect from him.”
“Winning the championship depends only and exclusively on ourselves: on our ability, our creativity, our determination and our desire to show that we are the best.”
FERRARI IS TRAILING
Team principal Stefano Domenicali also told the 31-year-old Massa that he must bring home results as Ferrari are trailing leaders Red Bull by 46 points in fourth place in the constructors' list.
“We expect a reaction from Felipe. We need his points for the constructors' championship,” Domenicali said.
Massa got the last of his 11 race wins in the 2008 finale in Brazil where Lewis Hamilton nonetheless stole the world title from him for McLaren in the final lap. His last podium was in South Korea 2010.
The next chance comes on Sunday at the glamour race in Monaco which Ferrari have not won since Michael Schumacher's success in 2001.
Alonso won the race twice, for Renault in 2006 and McLaren the next year, while Massa insists that the team has faith in him.
“Absolutely, yes, I feel the whole team stands by me,” he told the Ferrari website.
“Obviously, they are not happy with the results and neither am I: we all want is to get out of this and return to normal. It's possible and for sure it's what I want and I know that with the team's help we will manage it.”
Massa said he has trouble with “not a very easy car to drive” and that “many times I have found myself having to fight the car.”
But he said the poor results have nothing to do with his crash at the Hungarian race in 2009 in which he almost lost his life and that he has lost speed since.
“I have asked myself that forty five thousand times and don't think I haven't ... I don't feel in any way different to the way I was before that weekend,” he said.
If Massa doesn't deliver swiftly he is in serious danger of not having his contract renewed after the season.
Some say that he is only still driving because Sergio Perez of Sauber, a member of Ferrari's young driver programme who came second for Sauber at the Malaysian GP, is not available immediately. -Sapa-dpa