So, Massa is staying if…

…everything stays the same at Maranello. There is a contract for the Brazilian driver and Ferrari chairman Luca di Montezemolo says that this will be respected. There is no reason for anything to change. Unless… things change.

Montezemolo is still being tipped as the man most likely to be called upon when (rather than if) Silvio Berlusconi’s government finally collapses. In the course of the week, in addition to a string of legal actions against the Prime Minister, confidence in the Italian economy has taken a dive after the Italian parliament voted through a $67 billion austerity programme, with cuts in education, health care and the funding of regional governments. Pensions are being cut, government salaries frozen and taxes being increased. The hope is that the measures will stop Italy sliding into a debt crisis similar to that in Greece.

Italy has vast debts, amounting to a startling 120 per cent of the country’s annual gross domestic product and the finance minister Giulio Tremonti is insisting that the cuts are necessary to avoid the debt getting out of control. One of the primary problems is that the government is not collecting as much tax as it should be collecting, given the population as large numbers of people are failing to declare their income correctly. The country also suffers from not being competitive and the government has not done much to reform the system. Unemployment is high.

Montezemolo has a great reputation for getting things done and he has been carefully nurturing the concept that Italians must be united to solve the country’s problems. Although he says he does not want to go into politics, the signs are that he will. And what happens at Ferrari after that?

As previously reported, one of the ideas is to have Agnelli Family heir Lapo Elkann take over as chairman, with Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne keeping an eye on what is going on. That could lead to changes that would affect the racing team.

It may end up that nothing happens to the team for 2012 but Felipe Massa’s contract is up at the end of next year and it is highly unlikely that he will be retained again, based on the results he has achieved in the last two years.

13 thoughts on “So, Massa is staying if…

  1. I always said Felipe will keep his seat next year. I’m happy for him, but as usual in 2 weeks maximum a journalist will come with a rumor linking X or Y to Massa seat & someone within Ferrari will have to deny.

    F1 isn’t football and the fortnight gap between races is hard to fill. When Hamilton decides to avoid controversy (rarely luckily) people start to fill papers with Massa seat.

  2. Lapo Elkann, now there’s a character! No idea what he’s like these days but not so long ago he was making some lurid headlines. Sure he’ll fit into F1 just fine then…

  3. I would love to see what Montezemolo could do in office, but do you think he is prime minister material?

  4. “One of the primary problems is that the government is not collecting as much tax as it should be collecting”
    My old suppliers in northern Italy always use to say that you need to keep three sets of books, one for the tax man, one for the mafia and the real one for yourself. Tax avoidance is a national sport, and it is widely accepted that you should never pay all the tax the government wants.
    That they are uncompetitive, I believe is due to their protectionist policies of around fifteen to twenty years ago, they banned far eastern goods and instead of investigating them as sources, they stuck their heads in the sand. Their costs were too high, they used to complain that it was impossible to sack anyone, so when business slowed and the staffing requirement dropped they had to continue until bankruptcy, which was frequent amongst the medium sized suppliers we used. A bit further south in Reggio they tended not to take the laws so seriously, further south still and the lunches got longer and the money scarcer as more of it evaporated in the heat of the sun (read mafia/camorra) So you end up with a high tax rate, because only the relatively prosperous north actually pays it. Hence the “Northern League” which wanted to break away and form a new country.

    Will Montezemolo do better than Berlusconi? It depends on whether he can get people to do what he wants, politicians do not behave like Ferrari team subordinates. (the term “herding cats” come to mind)

  5. @rpaco “they used to complain that it was impossible to sack anyone, so when business slowed and the staffing requirement dropped they had to continue until bankruptcy, ”

    Sounds like France. Making people redundant in France costs so much you may as well just keep them, then, as you say, go bust.

    @Julian, not going to happen, already tried Hamilton + Alonso at McLaren, did not work. Will not try it at Ferrari.

  6. Joe – given Massa’s recent solid performances, do you think this is throwing a spanner in the works, making it harder for Ferrari to justify sacking him? If Ferrari are on the up technically and Massa gets swept up in the rising tide, I see this only getting worse for senior management.

  7. Im sure most ministers would keep in line. If they didn’t maybe all of a sudden no one would service their Ferrari’s.

    Prime Minister material? I suspect Pinochet cared more about the average citizen than Mr Berlusconi, so what are the standards?

  8. One must wonder why are Jules Bianchi and Sergio Perez having a shoot out in a 2009 Ferrari in September if not to replace Massa sooner rather than later?

    While it wouldn’t be odd for the team to evaluate them, I just found it strange they were announcing the fact and calling it a “shoot-out”.

  9. @gpcampbell,
    Testing Perez and Bianchi may be a warning to Massa. With Ferrari effectively being a 1 horse racing stable for the last 18 months, I can’t blame Ferrari for wanting to give Massa a little scare. Not only has he not outscored (or even matched) Alonso, he hasn’t robbed the other drivers of many points either. Alonso has had to do it all by himself and the fact that he was racing for championship in last years finale in AD just goes to show how fine a driver he is.

  10. We have to remember that Lucky Felipe was partners with Schuey, back in the days when testing wasn’t so restricted as today. So he probably can provide excellent technical feedback to the team, but with the departure of Aldo Costa I believe that Lucky Felipe’s time should be up.

    gpcampbell makes an excellent point, why be having this “shoot-out”, unless they need a replacement for Felipe?

    I think they should just sign Kobayashi.

  11. Julian Bowdidge,
    yeah Alonso and Lewis together in the same team, I’m sure everything will be fine…..
    It’s interesting you mention Perez, his career seems to be mirroring Massa’s, young highly rated Brazillian, driving for Sauber, Ferrari links. I did think Ferrari might go for Webber but the more I think of it the more I believe we will see Perez “taking the poison chalice” as Ferrari no.2.

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