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Ferrari back Massa for this year
08:55 AEST Sat Jul 13 2013

Ferrari will leave any decision on the future of under-pressure second driver Brazilian Felipe Massa until much later this season and only after they have intensified their bid to defeat Red Bull in this year's championship, team president Luca di Montezemolo said.

Di Montezemolo made this clear as the team prepared to launch a powerful challenge to defending triple world champion German Sebastian Vettel.

In the wake of a run of disappointing results that left Vettel and Red Bull emerge as clear leaders in both the drivers' and constructors' championships, the president said Massa will continue to be given complete backing.

"We are aiming to challenge for the championship and he is part of our team." he said.

Ferrari have not demonstrated the pace needed to win races since two-time champion Spaniard Alonso won his home race at the Circuit de Catalonia. They have since gone four races without a win.

Alonso was fourth in last weekend's German Grand Prix and afterwards said that it was only due to the team's strategy that they were close to a podium finish.

After that disappointment - Massa was out of the running following an early spin off the track - team chief Stefano Domenicali remained defiant and claimed that the Italians were still very much in the title race after half the season.

"The thing we have to do is improve the car, full stop. Things change so quickly that we've seen in the last couple of races. There are nine races to go, everything is still possible."

Massa has fallen 66 points adrift of Alonso and has been unable to register a top-five finish since the Spanish race won by Alonso.