Felipe Massa has argued that the blame for Scuderia Ferrari‘s failure to end their long-running title drought has not been solely down to Sebastian Vettel.
Following the news that Vettel is to leave the team at the end of the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, the German’s stint with the team looks set to end as a matter of unfulfilled potential.
Vettel joined the Italian outfit in 2015 with the ambition of infamously emulating his childhood hero Michael Schumacher and adding a fifth world championship to his name in red, to add to the four he won with Red Bull Racing between 2010 and 2013.
Although the former world champion has provided plenty of joyous moments to the tifosi by collecting 12 pole positions, 14 victories and 54 podiums over the past five seasons, that elusive title has to this point escaped his grasp.
Despite threatening to bring an end to the dominance of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in the turbo-hybrid engine era in both 2017 and 2018, a combination of both driver and team mistakes proved futile and has witnessed their wait to clinch a first title since 2008 now enter a 12th season.
“You cannot forget that the last time Ferrari won the championship was in 2008“, Massa eluded to on Sky Sports F1 vodcast when quizzed on the team’s failure to add to their illustrious history in the sport.
While Vettel has come under increasing scrutiny for his shortcomings in the midst of those two titanic title fights with rival Lewis Hamilton, Massa has leaped to the defence of his former rival.
Since the former Ferrari driver went agonisingly close to winning his maiden title in 2008, the Maranello-based outfit has seen the likes of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, and Vettel pass through their ranks but all have come unstuck in their attempt to be crowned again for which the Brazilian has cited the team should also take responsibility.
“It’s true that many good drivers passed through the team and were not able to win. Including after 2008, I was there and we never really had the car or the team to win.”
“Fernando [Alonso] definitely made an incredible job in 2010. He arrived really on the limit fighting for the championship. But maybe, to be honest, the car was not able to win in that year. In my opinion, he did an amazing job“, Massa said of his former team-mate.
“All of the drivers that are passing there – Sebastian [Vettel], Kimi [Raikkonen] – were not able to win because the team was not completely perfect to win the season.
“So it’s not only related to Sebastian. Sebastian did many great races, he won many races or he fought, and he was always in front of his team-mate – even a good team-mate and champion like Kimi.”
Vettel will be replaced by current McLaren F1 Team driver Carlos Sainz from 2021 onwards and Massa believes the team has made the correct decision for themselves in forming Ferrari’s youngest driver line-up in half a century.
“I think we need to respect the decision of Mattia [Binotto] and the team to get Carlos. Carlos shows that he has the talent.
“In his first year of Formula 1 if you really get back and try to see all the races, I think he and Verstappen were really close. He really showed he has the speed, he has the talent and he works a lot“, Massa disclosed.
Sainz achieved a career-high sixth place in the 2019 championship after moving to McLaren last season and Massa was impressed by the Spaniard’s standout year.
“He is a big worker in the physical way, but also in the team. He grew a lot in his career and last year he did a really fantastic year for McLaren. He has the experience so has the capacity to give what the team wants.”