Domenicali favoring Massa for Ferrari seat

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Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted that his “favorite” for the second seat at Ferrari next season is current driver Felipe Massa despite the Brazilian driver currently going through a rough patch of form.

Massa is the team’s second longest-serving driver, having joined the team in 2006 as a full-time driver and recording a best championship finish of second in 2008, where he lost out to Lewis Hamilton by a single point. An accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix almost ended Massa’s racing career, but he returned to the sport in 2010. However, having failed to finish on the podium since the Spanish Grand Prix in May, Massa’s seat is under threat in the yearly event of the media lining up his replacements. For Domenicali though, Massa is the best option.

“My favorite choice would be, of course, to keep Felipe because Felipe is a very good guy – very dedicated to the team – and when you look around there are not so many drivers out there that you swap and they immediately deliver,” Domenicali explained to the official Formula One website.

However, he did concede that Massa’s indifferent results have caused Ferrari to take their time over the decision when appointing a teammate for Fernando Alonso in 2014.

“But, of course, we need good results from Felipe, so that’s why we will not rush as we have to make the right decision for the team. As soon as we have made up our minds we will announce it officially to silence the rumours once and for all.”

Domenicali refused to comment on rumors suggesting that Kimi Raikkonen could be in line to return to Maranello next season, but without the right results, Massa’s future will always be thrown into question. Last season, Massa appeared to be on his way out of Ferrari following a poor start to the season, only for the Brazilian driver to go on an incredible run of form and secure an eighth season with the team this year.

Hartley to make F1 debut from back of grid after penalty

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Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.

Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.

However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.

Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.

The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.

Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.

A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.