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2013-04-03 10:34

IT'S MY STEERING WHEEL!: Although both drivers, Felipe Massa (left) and Fernando alonso, look happy in this pic, a feud might soon emerge if Massa becomes a threat to Ferrari's number one driver.

The fiery F1 pairing on every Formula 1 fan's lips right now is Sebastian Vettel versus Mark Webber but another fascinating battle is brewing over at Ferrari.

The sport's journalists are poring over statistics, wondering if there was ever another time when Fernando Alonso - Ferrari's undisputed and imperious No.1 - had been out-qualified by his team mate so many times on the trot.

A NEW RIVALRY

Some referred to Jarno Trulli at Renault in 2004, others to Lewis Hamilton at McLaren in 2007, but - actually - the five-times-in-a-row defeat in China next weekend would be historic.

In short, after a long slump punctuated by a near-fatal 2009 crash, Felipe Massa is back in the sort of form that almost saw him win the title in 2008. On the record, Spaniard Alonso insists he is happy that Massa is strong again. "It's the best news for the team," he said, "because we need to have competition between the two drivers and now I think all the data that we have is very useful to compare and to analyse to make ourselves better.”

Behind the scenes, though, the situation could be more volatile. Former F1 driver Sir Jackie Stewart said: "Fernando is exceptional but he does not cope well when his teammate is beating him."

At the very least, Alonso can count on the full backing of the Italian team which has put him on a pedestal rivalled only by that of Michael Schumacher a decade earlier.

Ferrari's president Luca di Montezemolo said: "In the race, Alonso is the best driver I've ever had.”

He added that a one-lap pace was more difficult to quantify through the eras, but "in the race itself, yes, he (Alonso) is the best".

'SOMETHING HAPPENED IN HIS HEAD'

However, barely since their partnership began in 2010 has there been another time where Massa was leading Alonso in the Drivers' points.

Referring to the Brazilian, Montezemolo continued: "It is true that at the beginning of last year (2012), something happened in his head and he could not go as (well as) Fernando did.

"But now he is very relaxed, he has been very good, but we should not forget that there were times when he was even faster than Michael (Schumacher).

"If I have any problems, it is not with the drivers.”

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Formula 1 season – fresh reports every day.
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