Sauber's Felipe Massa has long been linked with Ferrari but the Brazilian has played down speculation that he may take up a race driver role with the Italian team next season. Massa, who spent a year as test driver for the Scuderia in 2003, is ...
Sauber's Felipe Massa has long been linked with Ferrari but the Brazilian has played down speculation that he may take up a race driver role with the Italian team next season. Massa, who spent a year as test driver for the Scuderia in 2003, is rumoured to be in line to replace Rubens Barrichello but the youngster does not think his compatriot will leave Maranello.
"Everybody is talking about Rubens, but I think he will stay," Massa told Reuters. "If he wants to leave, if he is not happy at Ferrari, then for sure I think I will have a chance. The only way for me to go to Ferrari is if Rubens leaves. But at the moment I don't believe he will leave Ferrari."
Barrichello has been linked with a move to BAR if Jenson Button leaves for Williams but Rubens maintains he will stay with Ferrari. What Button may do appears to be the key to the driver market at the front end of the grid but for the moment it's all speculation.
Massa believes his best chance given the current situation is to remain with Sauber, which is being taken over by BMW. Massa has spent all his three competitive years in F1 with Sauber since his debut in 2002 and while the team has struggled against its wealthier rivals, Massa has been quietly honing his considerable talents.
"I think we have a good chance with BMW because everybody knows me inside the team and they know what I can do," he said. "I think I have a good chance to stay there. The most important thing for me is to have a competitive car for next year, because I was always in Sauber...it's always a small team."
"Next year they will be a big team and I'm sure they have the capacity and the possibility to grow a lot and have really a top team and competitive car. So that's why I'm really looking to see if I can stay because it's a good opportunity I think to grow together."
BMW will take over at the beginning of 2006 and the team will continue to be based at Hinwil in Switzerland, with support from the manufacturer's headquarters in Munich. So far Nick Heidfeld appears to be the driver most strongly linked with a move to BMW and he and Massa are no strangers -- the pair were teammates at Sauber in 2002.
Heidfeld is currently with Williams and according to the rumour mill BMW is very keen on the German. Heidfeld has held his own against the highly-rated Mark Webber but is likely to be nearest the door should Button want to return to Williams.
BMW is not expecting instant success when it enters F1 as a fully fledged team in 2006 but has a good basis on which to build with Sauber. The team has the potential to be more competitive with the right finances and the right drivers. Only time will tell if Massa is one of those right drivers but BMW would perhaps be wise to put the Brazilian on its shopping list.