Massa takes step towards 2013 contract

Felipe Massa has received strong backing from Ferrari despite a bad race for the Brazilian on Sunday.

The 31-year-old struggled so markedly early this season that some believed it impossible he is a contender to retain his race cockpit for 2013. But the last few races have been much better for Massa, including in Valencia, where he was right on eventual winner Fernando Alonso’s pace in qualifying.

Then came Sunday.

“I am very sorry for Felipe,” said Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, “who was really unlucky. He was going very well and I’m sure he could have brought home a good result if not for all the problems he had.”

Indeed, Massa’s pace was struck early on by rear end damage, his strategy was ruined by the safety car, and Kamui Kobayashi crashed into him.

Otherwise, “He started in fine style and had everything in hand to get a really good result,” team boss Stefano Domenicali insisted.

So is Ferrari still on the market to replace Massa for 2013?

“This is not the moment to talk about contracts,” Montezemolo said.