Felipe Massa's manager Nicolas Todt believes Ferrari is keen to retain the Brazilian for 2011, despite suggestions that it is looking at potential replacements.
Massa has been outpaced by new teammate Fernando Alonso for much of the season so far, and with his contract ending after this year, there has been speculation that Renault's Robert Kubica or championship leader Mark Webber – currently at Red Bull – are being considered for the second Ferrari seat next season. But Todt is optimistic that Massa still has a long future with Ferrari, which first signed him as a test driver in 2001. He was loaned to Sauber for 2002 and 2004-2005 seasons, and has been part of Ferrari's driver lineup since 2006.
"Felipe has been with Ferrari since 2001, he's lived some fantastic times with his first victories, and difficult times like his dramatic crash last year," Todt told Autosprint. "It's a special relationship, and I hope it can carry on like this for many years. This is Felipe's desire, and I think I understand it's also Ferrari's.
"When Felipe started winning his first grands prix it was a great satisfaction. Not many people believed in him, so it was good payback. I think Felipe has always been underestimated. Before the start of every season he has always been regarded as inferior compared to his teammate, while instead at the end of the season his overall result is better."
Todt is confident Massa can be a match for Alonso, and blamed his 2010 difficulties on this year's Bridgestone tires not suiting the Brazilian's style.
"When I see Felipe being six tenths slower per lap, as it has happened sometimes, I don't think it's down to the driving, otherwise he'd need to change jobs." said Todt. "We've seen that in races with super-soft tires, Felipe has been level with Alonso, like in Monaco and Bahrain.
"The truth is that he has problems with hard tires, because the car doesn't have enough load for his driving style and he struggles more to control the car compared with Alonso. The team has identified the areas to work on in order to suit Felipe better, so I'm confident. Besides, after seven races, his gap in the points is definitely smaller and it's open to any result."