Felipe Massa’s F1 career appeared in deep crisis on Wednesday, as the Italian press lined up multiple candidates to replace him.
Earlier, the weekly Autosprint suggested out-of-work grand prix winner and Italian Jarno Trulli is available to step in immediately to replace the beleaguered Brazilian, whose contract expires this year.
Ferrari seemed to clear a path for the 30-year-old’s removal by moving to replace his F2012 chassis ahead of Sepang, “to clear up any doubts about the unusual performance of his car” last weekend in Australia.
On Wednesday, the authoritative daily La Gazzetta dello Sport said Ferrari is considering dropping a driver mid-season for the first time since Rene Arnoux in 1985.
The newspaper said Ferrari development driver Sergio Perez, who is currently at Sauber, is an option, as is the former Force India driver Adrian Sutil.
A poll at Autosprint’s website, meanwhile, asked readers to nominate a worthy replacement for Massa – Mexican Perez scored the highest, with 44.7 per cent of the vote.
Second was Trulli with 27.6pc, followed by Rubens Barrichello at 6.6pc.
Only 1.3 per cent voted for 30-year-old Massa, who never returned to form following his serious accident in Hungary in mid 2009.