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Motorsport | Formula 1

Felipe Massa © Gallo Images

Ferrari back Massa for title fight



Ferrari will leave any decision on the future of under-pressure second driver Brazilian Felipe Massa until much later this season and only after they have intensified their bid to defeat Red Bull in this year's championship, team president Luca di Montezemolo said.

Di Montezemolo made this clear this week as the team re-grouped and prepared to launch a powerful challenge to defending triple world champion German Sebastian Vettel.

In the wake of a run of disappointing results that have seen Vettel and Red Bull emerge as clear leaders in both the drivers' and constructors' championships, the president said Massa will continue to be given complete backing.

"Felipe is fully aware he can count on our total confidence in him. We are aiming to challenge for the championship and he is part of our team." he said.

Ferrari have not demonstrated the pace needed to win races since two-time champion Spaniard Alonso won his home race at the Circuit de Catalonia. They have since gone four races without a win.

Alonso was fourth in last weekend's German Grand Prix and afterwards said that it was only due to the team's prepared strategy for the race that they were close to a podium finish.

After that disappointment –Massa was out of the running following an early spin off the track – team chief Stefano Domenicali remained defiant and claimed that the Italians were still very much in the title race.

"It's doable, for sure. One hundred per cent," he claimed. "If you believe a team like us would say the championship is finished after half the season – that is absolutely not the case.

"The thing we have to do is improve the car, full stop. Things change so quickly that we've seen in the last couple of races. There are nine races to go, everything is still possible."

While the fight goes on, Massa, whose recent record is at best patchy, will remain a key part of the team and no plans to replace him in 2014 will be considered.

His contract ends this year but this season he has fallen 66 points adrifit of Alonso as the championship has unfolded and has been unable to register a top-five finish since the Spanish race won by Alonso.

"The future?" said Di Montezemolo. "We will talk about that further down the line as there's no hurry.

"I hope he (Massa) 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."

Domenicali added he remained solidly behind the Brazilian.

"I always said that we have a lot of confidence in Felipe. I know this is a very critical, very tough moment because he is the first to be disappointed," he said

"The only thing to do is to stay always behind him and work hard with him because we need him to make sure we are fighting for the constructors' and the others are very close.

"He will feel that the team is close to him at 100 per cent."

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