With McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes already having decided on their driver line-ups for 2013, Ferrari are the only top team yet to make an announcement. Rumours have begun to circulate suggesting that the final decision for the second Ferrari seat is between current incumbent Felipe Massa and Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta.
Ferrari hasn’t given any timescale as to when they plan to decide and announce their driver line-up for 2013 but it is thought the decision will be made within the next few Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso is already confirmed for 2013 but whether or not Massa will still be there with him is the difficult decision that Ferrari face.
With Luca di Montezemolo having said that Sergio Perez was too inexperienced to drive for Ferrari it seems to suggest that Massa is likely to stay for another year, especially when it is considered that both Hulkenberg and di Resta have the same number of Grand Prix under their belts as Perez. Despite this Massa’s inconsistent performance over the last few years had led many to believe that once his contract expired this year it would not be renewed.
Both Hulkenberg and di Resta have had equally good performances this year. The recent announcements of line-ups at McLaren and Mercedes suggest that di Resta is the biggest loser so far having been linked to both seats. The situation doesn’t look to get much better for di Resta with rumours suggesting that Hulkenberg is the more likely to get the nod at Ferrari. Some rumours even suggest that the Hulkenberg deal is already done.
The decision for Ferrari is not going to be based on money so they are looking to secure the best driver for their campaign next season. Ultimately they are looking for a driver who can score points and podiums and help them to the constructors championship. The option to stay with Massa offers the team continuity but Ferrari may need something brand new to help them next season. Both Hulkenberg and di Resta are no doubt talented options who are likely to drive for little money.
Suggestions that Ferrari are looking to employ Sebastian Vettel in 2014 would mean they are just looking for a stop-gap driver for 2013. If this does turn out to be true this could prove to be career suicide for Hulkenberg and di Resta if they moved to Ferrari in 2013. However some are sceptical that this would be the right decision for Vettel in the long run.
If Ferrari are looking for a motivated driver who can push Alonso then choosing a young and ambitious driver like Hulkenberg or di Resta could be their best option. If they just want consistency and a driver that who they know well then they may end up keeping Massa. Whether or not Ferrari choose to keep Massa is dependent on his performance in the coming races. If he manages to maintain some of his current form then he could secure himself one last chance.