Massa: This result is like a win, definitely the best race of my season
19 November, 2012
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.
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.
“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.