Massa takes deliberate penalty to help Alonso in title race

Felipe Massa and Fernando AlonsoNov.18 (GMM) Ferrari on Sunday, ahead of the United States Grand Prix, sparked a pre-race controversy by deliberately inflicting a penalty on Felipe Massa.

A long-life gearbox rule means that breaking an official FIA ‘seal’ – usually necessary only in the event of a technical problem – incurs a five-place grid penalty.

Brazilian Massa qualified ahead of Fernando Alonso on Saturday, so the deliberate ‘seal breaking’ moved the Spaniard moved one place up the grid, from eighth to seventh.

With the US Grand Prix being the penultimate grand prix of the year, Ferrari’s tactical move – a decision made “for strategy considerations” according to the famous Italian team – may prove crucial.

Alonso needs to finish fourth or higher in order to prevent Red Bull‘s Sebastian Vettel from winning the drivers’ title on Sunday, if the German wins the race.

The main consideration, however, was about the “dirty side” of the grid; a higher factor than usual in Austin, given the newness and low-grip nature of the Circuit of the Americas asphalt.

“Starting from the dirty side of the track would have been penalising,” a statement posted on Ferrari’s official website explained.

“There was a significant risk of finding ourselves too far behind the leaders at the end of the first lap. It was a decision agreed by both drivers,” claimed the team.

“We’ve always maintained that the interests of the team come before that of the individual drivers and this has always been our very transparent policy.”

Although completely within the rules, Ferrari’s move is highly controversial. British broadcaster Sky’s pitlane reporter Natalie Pinkham wondered: “It’s legal, but is it fair?”

“Not much to feel about it. It’s their business,” Red Bull’s Vettel said on the grid.

Ferrari’s strategy worked well for Alonso a few minutes later, when the Spaniard moved up from his new seventh on the grid to fourth on the first lap, while the ‘dirty’ side of the grid struggled.

“[The] engineers were right,” said Sky commentator Martin Brundle, “it was all about one grid slot.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • fools

    Awesome move…was critical and it worked and was legal!

    Awesome brilliant decision. Good job and now lets win the WDC in Brazil boys!

  • Venezia

    What a good boy massa. Here’s a treat for you. Good doggie.

  • Arnab

    Desperate times for ferrari..but intelligent move which paid of at the end..great drive by felipe too..

  • Forza Ferrari

    Yea it turned out to be a brilliant move in the end by Ferrari. I sincerely felt sorry for Felipe at first, but after seeing how much all the drivers who started on the dirty side struggled, I really think it was a decision that was good for both drivers. If Felipe would’ve started on the dirty side then he would’ve lost several positions anyway. So yea, really good move and it paid off handsomely in the end. :-)

    Without that decision finger boy could’ve been WC already right now.

  • assad khan

    I used to like ferrari during the schumacher days, but as a child I did not read into the politics. Now, I must say they suck and are a fucӣ$% disgrace of an arrogant team.

    I would never reccomend anyone go to ferrari unless they have the balls to fathom the shit that they will go through.

    I wish felipe the best next year, i hope he destroys his team mate so the political wing of ferrai can try to sabotage his car all they want

  • budhachandra

    This strategy is nothing new in this sport or Ferrari, In the past Ruben Barrichello and Massa used to help Schumacher in numerous times to wins titles.This is just a team strategy not a politics.Helping the no1 driver should be the first option for Massa and he respect the team decision, I still remember how Massa missed the driver’s title by a whisker to Hamilton, I wish Felipe Massa all the best for the coming race and next the season..