Ferrari sign up Massa for two more years

London: Brazilian Felipe Massa cemented his return from life-threatening injuries by announcing a contract extension that will keep him at Formula One glamour team Ferrari until the end of 2012.

"I am happy to be given the opportunity to drive for Ferrari for a further two seasons," the 29-year-old said in a statement ahead of Sunday`s Canadian Grand Prix.

"Throughout my entire Formula One career I have always raced with an engine made in Maranello and it is a matter of pride for me to be able to continue working with a team I regard as a second family."

Massa, who has spent his F1 career in Ferrari-powered cars, started the season with a question mark over his future after he suffered serious injuries at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian was hit on the helmet by bouncing debris from compatriot Rubens Barrichello`s Brawn in a freak accident in qualifying last July.

Championship runner-up by a single point to Britain`s Lewis Hamilton in 2008, Massa missed the final eight races of last season but has come back determined to show he has lost none of his pace.

Although beaten early on by new Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso, who won the Bahrain season-opener, he led the standings after the third race in Malaysia. He is now seventh, 26 points off the lead.

Difficult Times

"Felipe has been part of Ferrari for almost a decade and together with us, he has grown as a driver and a man, going through some very difficult times as well as giving us moments of great happiness," said team principal Stefano Domenicali.

"We wanted to show proof of stability for the future, believing in the worth of a driver pairing that is without equal in terms of talent, speed and its ability to work together for the good of the team."

Massa has been under contract to Ferrari since 2001 although he raced for Ferrari-engined Sauber in 2002, 2004 and 2005.

The Brazilian has started 69 races for the Italian team, with 11 wins, 15 pole positions and 30 podium placings.

With double world champion Alonso joining this year on a three-year deal from Renault, Ferrari have now nailed down a long-term line-up that effectively freezes the driver market at the top of the sport.

Massa`s position was the sole possible vacancy among the leading four teams, unless Michael Schumacher abandons his comeback at Mercedes, after Red Bull agreed a new deal with championship leader Mark Webber this week.

Leaders McLaren are sure to continue with champions Jenson Button and Hamilton while closest rivals Red Bull have Webber and Germany`s Sebastian Vettel signed up for 2011.

Bureau Report

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