Felipe Massa insists he is not worried about the apparently ever-greater influence wrought by his team mate Fernando Alonso at Ferrari.
Brazilian Massa hit such a low-point in his career early last year that, this week, he admitted that as Ferrari considered who to replace him with, he thought about quitting the team and F1.
Ultimately, 31-year-old Massa’s form improved and he was offered a new deal for 2013, but some believe Ferrari want only a competent ‘number two’ for Alonso.
Indeed, more evidence of the ‘Alonso factor’ at Ferrari apparently emerged this week, when his former McLaren colleague and countryman Pedro de la Rosa was signed as a development driver.
Massa played down that suggestion.
‘It is true that there are three Spanish (drivers) on the team,’ the Brazilian is quoted by Spain’s Marca newspaper, ‘but de la Rosa is coming here to improve the simulator.’
The third Spaniard referred to by Massa is Marc Gene, another test driver.
Massa added: ‘The press likes to say these things, but I don’t think that this (the presence of Spanish drivers) is a thing done by Fernando.’
He said he does not worry that the ‘Alonso factor’ is becoming so strong that the occupant of the other Ferrari has no chance.
‘I cannot imagine a team that does not help one of its drivers because he wants the other to win,’ Massa said at Ferrari’s Madonaddo di Campiglio media ski event.
‘There are two cars and that is important also for the manufacturers’ title,’ he added.
In fact, he thinks that if he simply performs better than Alonso in 2013, ‘I do not see any reason why he is not going to help me, as I’ve done for him many times.’
Alonso, meanwhile, welcomed de la Rosa’s arrival, but played down the significance of the news.
‘The arrival of Pedro is very positive,’ he is quoted by El Pais newspaper. ‘We have signed him to optimise the simulator, which is one of the areas that we needed to improve.
‘But anyway, there are more important signings for the car’s performance than that of Pedro, who can help more for the longer term,’ added Alonso.
He is undoubtedly referring to the arrivals of well-known F1 aerodynamicists Loic Bigois and Martin Bester.