Felipe Massa has six races to save his Ferrari career, Caterham’s Russian driver Vitaly Petrov told RIA Novosti on Friday.
The Brazilian has failed to finish higher than fifth since October 2010, and is 17th in the world championship standings, while his teammate Fernando Alonso is level with leader Sebastian Vettel.
A statement from Ferrari on Monday that “Everyone, [Massa] more than anyone, is expecting a change of gear starting right away” was interpreted by many within the sport as a final warning.
“I don’t think they’ll fire Massa just now. At least not until August,” Petrov said.
The sport takes a month-long break after the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 29. Six races remain until then, starting with the Monaco Grand Prix on May 27.
But Ferrari are not placing Massa under unreasonable pressure, Petrov said.
“I wouldn’t say that Ferrari are criticizing him that strongly. They’re not saying he has one more chance or anything like that.”
“Yes, he’s under pressure, but they’re letting him do his job.”
The reason for Massa’s underwhelming form in 2012, with a best finish of ninth in Bahrain, could be the design of the car, Petrov said.
“It’s possible that this year the car doesn’t suit Felipe as he would have liked.”
Massa’s last win came at his home race at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, when he lost out in the title race to Lewis Hamilton after the Briton passed Timo Glock for fifth place on the last lap to take the championship by one point.
The Brazilian suffered head injuries after being hit by a spring during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix and missed the rest of the season.