Mar.21 (GMM) One race into the 2012 season, the Italian press has already named a candidate for beleaguered Ferrari driver Felipe Massa's seat.

Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari
Felipe Massa, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: xpb.cc

On notice by the famous team and with an expiring contract, the Brazilian driver had a nightmare 2012 opener in Australia.

Mika Salo, the 1999 Ferrari substitute driver, told broadcaster MTV3 that Massa's performance, "compared to Alonso's, was very poor".

Autosprint, the Italian weekly, has suggested the out-of-work Grand Prix winner Jarno Trulli is available to step in immediately to replace Massa.

The Maranello based team appeared to immediately react in the form of a report on its official website, acknowledging its 30-year-old driver "has certainly been the target of criticism" after Melbourne.

Indeed, so poor was Massa's performance last weekend that Ferrari has agreed to scrap his chassis and replace it with a brand new one for Sepang, despite the one-week turnaround between the flyaway back-to-back races.

"This choice was taken to clear up any doubts about the unusual performance of his car during the weekend at Albert Park," said the team.

Ferrari also revealed that team boss Stefano Domenicali and technical director Pat Fry returned to Maranello after Australia rather than make the much-shorter trek to Malaysia.

Actually, I see a much harsher reality for them

Joan Villadelprat

"The fifth position of Fernando Alonso in Australia was a distortion," argued former Ferrari engineer Joan Villadelprat in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

"Actually, I see a much harsher reality for them."

Another Spanish newspaper, AS, reports that Ferrari is pressing the throttle on a 'plan B', involving a substantial redesign of the F2012 chassis for China that will involve a new FIA crash test.