Former Ferrari driver Mika Salo has admitted he was “surprised” his former team opted to honour Felipe Massa’s contract for 2012.
The Finn, who raced at the famous Maranello team for a time in 1999 after Michael Schumacher broke his leg, said Fernando Alonso is the “clear number one” nowadays.
“I don’t think Massa will be staying after this season,” former Sauber and Toyota driver Salo, who attended last week’s Jerez test, told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3. “I was surprised that he was allowed to continue this year.”
Salo, 45, said there is a similar pecking-order at Red Bull, where Sebastian Vettel last year utterly dominated his teammate Mark Webber. He also commented on McLaren’s duo, comprising two world champions.
“If McLaren has a good car then the drivers will be taking points off one another – that’s not something that will happen in the other teams. On the track, Hamilton is the fastest but not quite as smart as Button in the races.”
Salo sees less of a close battle at Lotus this year, where his countryman Kimi Raikkonen is returning to F1 alongside GP2 champion Romain Grosjean.
“Kimi should be much faster than Grosjean,” he said, “who is only there because Boullier is his manager.”
As for Williams’ lineup of Pastor Maldonado alongside Bruno Senna, Salo said: “I think this is one of the worst pairings. Both are susceptible to mistakes. Senna had few good races last year but faded badly by the end.
“Maldonado is a bit of a hothead, so I don’t see it being a good year for them. For (test driver) Valtteri Bottas there could be a good opportunity to get a race.”