Honda website
Honda website

SEPTEMBER 17, 2003

What if...

One of the current mysteries in Formula 1 is the fact that Sauber has not signed Felipe Massa, although it is clear that this is the Swiss team's intention. Peter Sauber says that it is all down to the need to talk through the deal through but it is clear that the delays are coming from Massa's end.

One possible explanation of this, although it is complete speculation, is that Ferrari may be waiting to see what happens in the World Championship because it could be that Michael Schumacher will win a record-breaking sixth World Championship and then decide to quit the sport. Michael shows no signs of wanting to give up F1 but he has often said in the past that the time to quit is when he feels the new generation begin to make him work harder and take more risks. With the rise of Kimi Raikkonen, Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso, Michael may have realized that the time is now approaching. He will also know that Ferrari is facing a cut in its budgets because it cannot afford to continue to invest at the same kind of level as has been the case in recent years and that will inevitably mean that the research and development budgets will be hit and that will mean a slowing in the drive to stay ahead.

In the circumstances the desire to go on may be less than once it was and the knowledge that quitting at the top is the best thing to do. Particularly when you have the best record of any driver in F1 history and plenty of money in the bank.

If Ferrari knows that this could be the case, it is probably wise to keep Massa available until the outcome of the World Championship is known.