Felipe Massa has leapt into contention to replace the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus. Both the Brazilian's manager Nicolas Todt, and Lotus team boss Eric Boullier, have revealed 32-year-old Massa is in the running for what Todt describes as "the best seat" left on the 2014 grid. "What is certain is that other teams are interested in Felipe," Todt, speaking after Wednesday's news that Raikkonen will replace Massa at Ferrari next year, told Canal Plus.
"Felipe will never play second fiddle in a small team, so what we need to do is find him a car that allows him to play a leading role in formula one. For sure, the best team today, the most interesting seat, is the one left behind by Raikkonen. After that, is it the only interesting seat? We'll see," added Todt. "It will be important to pay attention and be responsive in the coming weeks."
However, until now, the favourite to replace Raikkonen at Lotus has been Nico Hulkenberg, who was also in contention for the Ferrari seat. Lotus team boss Eric Boullier told RMC Sport: "Felipe Massa is also available, so he is inevitably on the list. But let's not go too fast in activating the 'plan B'," said Boullier. "We are the only team left with a good seat available, and so inevitably this will affect many people."
It seems obvious that, in the interests of continuity, Raikkonen's departure has strengthened the case for Romain Grosjean to keep the other seat. "It (Raikkonen's departure) can be good for him (Grosjean)," Boullier said, "because after growing for two years next to a world champion, he can unite the team and build it around him and prove he can be the leader. It can be an opportunity for him," he added, "but he must finish the championship well."
As for Massa, his Brazilian countryman Rubens Barrichello said he was sad to hear that his friend had lost his Ferrari seat. "But there is life after Ferrari, and I'm proof of that," he is quoted by Globo. "To race for Ferrari is the most sensational thing there is, but afterwards there is a release, a little less pressure. There is a moment of pain, but then life afterwards, and even things in life that are better," Barrichello added.
Another former F1 driver and Brazilian, Luciano Burti, also commented: "I know that Sauber would be interested in having him back, but it would not be a high-end car. It depends on what Felipe wants," he added. (GMM)