Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has labeled the 2012 season as "crucial" for Felipe Massa's future at the Italian squad.
The Brazilian has been overshadowed by teammate Fernando Alonso over the past two years, and Massa failed to finish on the podium all season long in 2011. His contract expires at the end of 2012, and Domenicali suggested Massa will need to perform strongly in order to secure his future at Ferrari. The Italian, however, is confident Massa will be able to deliver what is expected from him.
"As you can imagine this year is an important year from Felipe," said Domenicali. "We are expecting a lot from him and he is expecting a lot from himself. We need to be realistic – this is a crucial season for him and his future.
"We will do everything to help him. I am confident that Felipe will take out from himself the maximum he can deliver because the potential he has is very, very strong.
"I know what is around the subject from all over the world, but I know Felipe when he is under pressure is performing better and I am expecting from him a great season."
Domenicali also praised the performance of Alonso since he joined the Maranello squad, saying he has not seen anyone as committed in the last 20 years.
"From everyone we are expecting more and more, to do what he did last year with the car we had, the level of his performance was incredible," he added. "The highest level, and he was able to take out the maximum of the car. I cannot ask more than what he is doing now, and I have to say in the last couple of years he is spending more time in Maranello than anyone else who I have seen in 20 years of experience at Ferrari.
"He is with us because he believes in our team and to achieve more victories in the future. I think that, on our side, it is to make sure he has this kind of reward."
Domenicali also denied Ferrari has targeted Robert Kubica to replace Massa. He said the Polish driver will first need to show he has recovered from his injuries.
"That was not on our plan. I can see there was speculation," he said. "Robert Kubica is a great driver who had very severe injuries and, at the moment, he is still working very hard to try to go back to his normal living. So before any kind of thinking or discussion we need to wait and see. For sure, that kind of injury takes a long time to recover from, so I can say we will wait and see if he is going to recover. But, at the moment, there is nothing in place."