Massa: This result is like a win, definitely the best race of my season

Felipe Massa Ferrari, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, 18 November 2012.

Felipe Massa had a busy afternoon in Texas

Nov.19 (Ferrari) Felipe Massa had an eventful United States Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin Texas. A clever, if somewhat controversial strategic move by Ferrari saw him drop five places on the grid and start 11th, only to drag himself back up to fourth by the end of a frantic race.

Felipe Massa Ferrari, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, 18 November 2012.Massa’s unusual day began when Ferrari elected to break the seal on his gearbox. The subsequent penalty demoted him five places, meaning that he started 11th. That promoted team-mate Fernando Alonso to seventh but more importantly put the title-chasing Spaniard on the cleaner outside of the grid. It also moved Massa to that side.

Those on the outside were on the racing line, and thus had more traction when the lights went out. Both Alonso and Massa made up places into the first corner. Massa subsequently had an eventful afternoon, but taking advantage of good pace and the misfortunes to others, climbed to fourth by the chequered flag.

“For me, this result is a bit like a win, definitely the best race of my season,” said Massa “Now I can say I’m happy to have started eleventh! At the start I made up three places, but then I ran wide and lost a few. After that, I had a strong pace and also pulled off some passing moves at various points on the track; once I even got two cars at the same time. We did the best we could have done today – I don’t think I could have fought Vettel or Hamilton.

“Today, maybe I could have finished ahead of Fernando, but I’m well aware of the championship situation and I do what is right for Ferrari, as I’ve done throughout my career.

Felipe Massa Ferrari, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Race, Austin, Texas, 18 November 2012.“This morning, when I was told I was dropping five places, I can’t say I was jumping for joy, but I accepted it to help the team and my team-mate: I don’t think many drivers would have done the same, but I am an honest person and will always do my utmost for my team.”

Technical director Pat Fry defended Ferrari’s unconventional decision, arguing that their projections suggested that the move would help Alonso without unnecessarily hampering Massa.

“We achieved our objective, which means keeping the drivers’ championship alive to the end,” said Fry. “This morning we decided to take a penalty that goes with changing a gearbox, which resulted in Felipe dropping five places on the grid, but meant both that drivers started from the clean side of the track, an important factor, given Fernando is fighting for the drivers’ title. We expected this to produce an advantage for the Spaniard and a more or less similar outcome for the Brazilian and as things turned out, if you look at the order after the first corner, we were right. ”

“I want to congratulate Felipe, not just for his great drive in the race, but above for all for the way he went along with our decision to knowingly take a penalty so as to maximize our potential at the start, especially for his team-mate,” added team principal Stefano Domenicalli. “It was definitely a tough decision, but he took it with the same spirit he has always demonstrated, in that the interests of the team come before those of the individual. Not only did events show it was the right decision, but furthermore we had … confirmation, if it was ever needed, that Felipe is a team player, sincere and honest, who fully shares our values and for that, I want to thank him publicly.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • John

    It almost makes you believe that Massa is a racing driver when he qualifies as well as he did, and finished much higher than he started.

    Almost, but not quite. Which is a real shame to see such talent go to waste.

  • Kimi4WDC

    It’s such a shame that it is not Hamilton who is Challenging Vettel for Championship.

    I guess, you win some you loose some.

    I hope at after Brazilian GP, Ferrari will take a honest look at them self and see that at no point they were Championship challengers and make some adjustments before next season. Horrible.

  • Butterfly

    Ferrari brought an improved diffuser for Abu Dhabi, but then decided to “upgrade” it for Austin by removing two fins from it, which degraded performance. Fernando kept the “upgrade”, while Massa didn’t. That’s why Felipe was faster.

    Fernando has a habbit of trying out full upgrades in race-trim, maybe just to test them, or maybe he failed to notice the perf drop.

    Either way, it really shows the design team has no clue. They’ve done this sort of “upgrade” three times this year, already.

    Now, that’s horrible.

  • JPSmoove

    The shame here is that Ferrari did not live up to the spirit of the F1 rules with this tactic and have lessened the Ferrari brand to win. Not very sporting in my book!