Felipe Massa will continue to drive for Ferrari in 2013, the Italian team confirmed on Tuesday.
The Brazilian, who scored his first podium in nearly two years at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier this month, had widely been expected to keep his seat at the team, despite enduring a couple of disappointing seasons.
“I am very happy to have reached this agreement,” said Massa. “Ferrari is my racing family and throughout my entire time in Formula 1, I have always driven cars powered by engines built in Maranello: I can’t see myself driving cars propelled by anything else!
“First and foremost, I want to thank President Montezemolo and Stefano Domenicali, who had faith in me and who have always supported me, even at the most difficult moments. The team and also all the fans can rest assured that I will do all in my power to help the Scuderia reach the targets it sets itself each year.”
Massa, many have argued, has not been the same driver since his horrific accident in Hungary in 2009, where a small metal bolt from another car struck him in the head during qualifying, and fractured his skull. Recent results – second in Japan and then fourth last week in Korea – have suggested he is returning to form.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali made reference to this recent improvement when discussing the announcement this week.
“We are pleased to have extended our relationship with Felipe for a further year,” he said. “[Massa] has been part of our family for over a decade and has shown, expecially in this recent part of the season, that he is once again competitive at the highest level, which is what is expected of every driver who gets behind the wheel of a Ferrari.
“We have always supported Felipe, even in the most difficult moments of his career and we are certain of his worth and are sure he will know how to repay the confidence this renewal proves we have in him.”
On Thursday, Ferrari issued a further press release explaining the reasons behind the decision to retain Massa, probably to challenge speculation. The team insisted that the choices were “carefully weighed up”, and that the announcement was not “inevitable because of the lack of alternatives”.
The team also denied persistent rumours that Fernando Alonso had selected Massa, claiming that the decision was not “in anyway guided by the wishes of his current team-mate, because Ferrari alone chooses its drivers”.