Felipe Massa faces a crunch year in 2012 to prove his place at Ferrari as he bids to put another disappointing campaign behind him. Although Ferrari has reiterated that Massa will remain a part of the team next year, despite ongoing speculation that his place could be under threat, the Scuderia is eager for the Brazilian to rediscover the form that helped him fight for the title as recently as 2008.
Speaking at the Ferrari World Finals at Mugello, team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "I am counting heavily on Felipe's will to fight back, as he knows next year will be a key one in which, and I'm convinced of it, he will be able to show his true worth.
"As for the rumors regarding all the drivers who are due to arrive in Maranello to replace him, I can only repeat my words and indeed those only recently uttered by our president, in every possible way: Felipe will also be with us in 2012 and that should make you understand how much faith we have in him."
Domenicali said he also is confident that Fernando Alonso will be motivated to get himself back into title contention next year, as he returns to Abu Dhabi this weekend for the first time since missing out on the crown 12 months ago.
"I am sure that, in the next few days, going back to Abu Dhabi will have an effect on Fernando, given what happened there last year, but this negative emotion will be a further incentive for him to turn things around in 2012," he said.
Reflecting on the season just gone, Domenicali concedes that Ferrari did not do a good-enough job, which makes it vital that it fights from the front right from the beginning of 2012.
"We started very badly but then, coming into summer, we staged a good recovery which, among other things, saw us take the significant win at Silverstone," he said. "Then we had a program of further development on the car, which should have brought us much closer to the frontrunners.
"Unfortunately, the updates introduced in Spa did not produce the results we hoped for and so we took a step backward, partly because, by then, we had interrupted the development of the 150 Italia to concentrate all our energies on next year's car. In the last few races, we also tested a few ideas and parts which will be useful in the near future and we will continue to do that in Abu Dhabi and Brazil."
He added: "In the remaining two races, we want to try and get on the podium and try all we can to get Fernando to second place in the drivers' classification. Meanwhile, everyone at Maranello is working to produce a car that is competitive right from the start of next season, when, as we are well aware, we can have only one goal, which is victory."