Ferrari president has “total confidence” in Massa

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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has said that he has total confidence in Felipe Massa, claiming that the team will not rush into making a decision about his future.

Massa has failed to match the form of his teammate, Fernando Alonso, so far this season, and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, many believe that he could be dropped for 2014. However, di Montezemolo is happy with the Brazilian’s work for the team.

“Felipe is fully aware he can count on our total confidence in him,” di Montezemolo said on the team’s website. “I hope he will soon secure the results that will show his talent to the full, such as the great starts he pulled off at the last two Grands Prix.

“The future? We will talk about that further down the line as there’s no hurry.”

Massa’s recent form has failed to impress many, having failed to finish on the podium since the Spanish Grand Prix back in May. Last time out in Germany, the Brazilian driver retired after just three laps following a gearbox failure.

The driver market is finely poised for next season with Red Bull set to take on a new driver when Mark Webber retires. Should Ferrari wish to release Massa after eight seasons with the team, it would cause an even greater reshuffle on the 2014 grid.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.