NOVEMBER 20, 2002

The future of Felipe Massa

There have been rumours for some weeks that Felipe Massa will move to Ferrari as a test driver next year. He does not deny that this is a possibility but it is clear that the Brazilian is still hoping to land a drive with another F1 team - and it is logical to assume that his major target is the Jordan team, which is currently looking for money for the 2003 season.

The situation at Jordan is that in theory both Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato are under contract for 2003 but that could change. Fisichella is considered to be an important figure by the team but he has a very expensive contract, believed to be worth $6m. Sato had a promising first year in F1 but without the team being supported by Honda there is little reason for Sato to stay if money can be found to support another driver.

Benson & Hedges would return to Jordan and probably increase its involvement but it wants a top level British driver. Eddie Irvine fits the bill but the Ulsterman will be wanting a healthy salary as well and Benson & Hedges will be wanting to get as much of the car as it can for a as little money as possible. The alternative is for Jordan to find a big new sponsor. There have been talks with Red Bull but the Austrian energy drink company wants to buy a team and negotiations with Jordan do not seem to have made much progress. Red Bull could well stay with Sauber for another year, if only to maintain continuity until it can do what it wants to do. There is still the possibility that Jordan could find a big sponsor, attracted by the fact that there is plenty of space available on the cars and that would give Eddie Jordan a free choice of drivers, in which case he might easily opt for Massa, particularly if the youngster could find some cash to support his candidature. Another man who is thought to be trying the same thing is Enrique Bernoldi, a Red Bull favourite in recent years.

If Massa cannot land a deal with Jordan or Minardi it is thought he will become a Ferrari tester, although this is not his first choice.