Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo is convinced they made the right choice in handing Felipe Massa a fresh contract for 2013
Key for Massa in keeping his job was the second half of the season, when he showed dramatic improvement after what was an admittedly poor start to the 2012 campaign.
While some believed Ferrari should have looked to a younger driver, the Ferrari president has no doubt over the decision to stick with Massa.
“The Brazilian improved a great deal in the second half: in fact in the first part, it seemed he’d gone on a round the world holiday!” said Di Montezemolo during his annual Christmas lunch with media at Maranello this week.
“Joking apart, I think the decision to reconfirm his position was the right one. If we had changed, then one would need to take on someone who would make a difference and I can’t say I noticed many drivers around who would be quicker than Felipe.
“Also, we did not want to change the balance and the good atmosphere within the team. Domenicali and I told ourselves it was best to wait and I think that the facts proved us right.
“Towards the end, when Felipe was even faster than Fernando a couple of times, the points he scored played a vital part in securing our place in the constructors’ championship.”
Reflecting on the year that was, Di Montezemolo admitted to disappointment at missing out on the championship by such a narrow margin, but also felt the team had done a great job.
“You can see the glass as half full or half empty, but clearly there is great regret,” he added.
“Because the outcome went down to the wire, because after that first lap in Brazil, maybe things could have turned out differently, because Fernando went on holiday at the start of the summer break with a 40 point lead over his closest challenger and because, when it came to collisions, we were forced to retire, while others kept going as if nothing had happened.
“However, the biggest regret is that we did not have a car that was quick enough to win the world championship.
“On the glass half full side, we had amazing reliability which allowed us to come second in the constructors’ championship despite the fact McLaren was quicker than us and despite the fact that, in the first half of the season we pretty much only had Alonso’s points to count on.
“There were those great starts and pit stops and the fact Fernando had an extraordinary season, the best since he has been in Formula 1.
“Next year, let’s hope we can say it was our best season, given that we want to give him and Felipe a car that’s competitive right from the start.”