Massa on verge of new Ferrari deal

Felipe Massa is expected to be confirmed as a Ferrari driver for an eighth successive season, possibly as early as this week. The Brazilian, widely tipped to be replaced a few weeks ago, has rallied with impressive performances in the Japanese and Korean grands prix.

On Sunday night, Massa said, "No, I don't have doubts," when asked about his Ferrari future. "When you get the okay from both directions is when you're sure. I think it will be pretty soon to be honest."

Massa finished second to Senastian Vettel in Suzuka and fourth in Korea, close behind Ferrari team leader Fernando Alonso. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "Felipe followed up his great race in Suzuka with another one here. His future? As my friend Laura Pausini (Italian pop singer) would say, "Wait and see..." Domenicali is unlikely to be talking like that if Massa is about to be dropped!

On results since his career-threatening accident in Hungary in 2009, when he was hit by a rogue spring from Rubens Barrichello's car, Massa has not looked too impressive, however.

In 2010 he finished sixth in the championship with 144 points to Alonso's 252 (57%). In 2011 he was sixth again with 118 points to Alonso's 257 (46%). This season, including his two last strong races, Massa has 81 points to Alonso's 209 (39%).

Certainly Massa has not until recently appeared to be the same driver as the one who so narrowly lost the 2008 world title to Lewis Hamilton on the last lap of the last race. His critics say that his low score percentage is what is stopping Ferrari competing for the constructors' championship against Red Bull and Mclaren teams with much more closely matched drivers. Clearly though, he seems to be a protected species for whatever reason.

If, as expected, Massa is retained, Nico Hulkenberg, who was widely fancied to replace him, is likely to fill the Sauber vacancy created by Sergio Perez's departure to McLaren.

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