Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo says that Felipe Massa will not become a permanent number two driver, even though Fernando Alonso has ended up being the focus of the team's title push this season.
Last week di Montezemolo told the Italian press that he was looking for Massa "shave points off the rivals" in the deciding races, underlining that "those who race for Ferrari don't race for themselves, but for the Ferrari team colors." But the Italian made it clear that Massa was still regarded as Alonso's equal by the team, despite the current situation, and that both drivers would start 2011 with an even chance.
"Felipe is and will always stay a number one driver for Ferrari," di Montezemolo said on Ferrari's website. "I expect the performances of a number one driver from him – both in the next four races and, with different tires, next year. Those will be crucial to bring us wins next season and to take important points from our opponents in the battle for this World Championship."
Di Montezemolo added that he had spoken with both drivers by telephone today, and was pleased with the mood in the Ferrari camp ahead of this weekend's crucial Japanese Grand Prix.
"Fernando sounded very focused and determined, just like the whole team," said di Montezemolo. "It's an important time and I'm sure that everyone will give everything they have in order to achieve our objectives."
After back-to-back wins in Italy and Singapore, Alonso has jumped from fifth to second in the standings and closed to within 11 points of leader Mark Webber.