Massa improves Ferrari chances

  • Last Updated: October 15 2012, 7:30 BST

Felipe Massa looks set to stay with Ferrari after continuing his resurgence with fourth place at the Korean Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa: Looks set to stay at Ferrari

The Brazilian was thought to be heading for the exit door at Maranello after a poor first half to the season, with Mark Webber being strongly tipped to take his seat before the Australian re-signed with Red Bull.

But the 31-year-old has performed strongly since the Belgian Grand Prix, and took his first podium in almost two years at the Japanese Grand Prix.

He followed that up with fourth in South Korea, where he shadowed team-mate Fernando Alonso throughout, with his pace even leading the team to ask him to give the title-chasing Spaniard a bit of breathing space during the closing stages.

With his upturn in fortunes, Massa now appears set to extend his stay with the Prancing Horse into an eighth season, with Force India's Nico Hulkenberg, another mentioned as a potential replacement, set to switch to Sauber instead.

When asked if Massa would remain with Ferrari in 2013, team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "You will know what will be our situation on that very soon."

He added: "I am very happy [with Felipe]. He did an excellent race and qualifying, but he has done an excellent job over the last couple of races and this is very promising for the end of the season.

"I think he is understanding the car better, understanding the tyres better.

"Felipe we believe is a very strong driver, otherwise we would already have taken a different decision [for 2013], and now Felipe has the understanding of the car and the tyres under his control, he is performing at the level he should."

Sebastian Vettel's win in Korea meant Alonso's third place was not enough to prevent him losing the lead of the championship.

He now trails the Red Bull driver by six points with just four races remaining.

Ferrari may not have been able to match Red Bull, but the Maranello outfit appeared to have taken a step forward as they were much improved in qualifying and typically competitive during the race.

And Alonso said: "We are always on the limit, but we feel comfortable like this.

"We seem to extract the maximum from the car when we are under pressure and there are four beautiful races to come with good possibilities for us to fight for the championship.

"In the end, I'm sure there will be some circuits where we are a little bit more competitive, and some circuits where we are maybe not competitive enough, but overall, in the last four races now we need to score seven points more than Sebastian, that will be extremely tough but we believe we can do it."

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