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Sport – Massa can handle Alonso at Ferrari: Ecclestone

SUZUKA: Felipe Massa should have nothing to fear from Fernando Alonso’s arrival at Ferrari, Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone said on Thursday.

“If he (Massa) handled Kimi, he should be able to handle Fernando,” the Briton said at the Japanese Grand Prix. “They are the same type of driver, aren’t they? I think he will be alright.

“It is good. Good for Fernando, good for Formula One, good for Ferrari,” he added of the move.

Ferrari confirmed an open secret on Wednesday with a statement announcing double world champion Alonso had signed a three-year deal and would be joining Brazilian Massa from 2010.

The Spaniard takes the place of Finland’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, whose contract has been torn up a year early by mutual agreement.

Massa has not raced since he suffered life-threatening head injuries at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July but is making good progress with his recovery.

The Brazilian lost out on the title by a single point last season to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, Alonso’s team mate at that team in 2007.

Some commentators had expected Raikkonen to reduce Massa to a number two role when the Finn moved to Ferrari from McLaren in 2007 but the Brazilian rose to the challenge and did a far better job than his team mate last year.

Massa, a friend of retired seven times champion Michael Schumacher and managed by the son of former Ferrari boss Jean Todt, is also close to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and has become a respected and popular team member.

Ecclestone doubted Alonso would be able to mould the team around him like Schumacher had done with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello reduced to a number two role.

“No, no way. He may try, but I don’t think he will be successful,” he said.

The commercial supremo was confident Raikkonen would end up in a competitive car next season, with the Finn strongly tipped to return to McLaren as Hamilton’s team mate in a line-up of champions.

“I think we will see him in a good car,” he said. “It would be good to see him in a McLaren.”

Asked why he felt the Finn and Ferrari had not worked out, he added: “Different culture. He is probably better off in an English type team.”

Ecclestone also said he would like to see France’s world rally champion Sebastien Loeb in a Formula One car, with continuing speculation that could happen with Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“Obviously we would like to see him. He is a well known guy. It is nice to have a change of people, and he is a nice guy as well,” Ecclestone added.

Looking around the revamped Suzuka pit and paddock, with a gleaming new complex replacing the tired concrete structure that was here when the Honda-owned circuit last hosted a race in 2006, he could not resist a dig at Britain’s Silverstone.

“Now you guys understand why I complained about Silverstone,” he said. “They (Suzuka) have got on with it, that was one of the conditions we come back here.”

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October 1, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized |

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