Going into the Japanese Grand Prix weekend Felipe Massa had the words of Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo ringing in his ears.
Instead Massa had a weekend so dreadful it made you want to wince and look away.
|Felipe Massa||Fernando Alonso|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q2)||1’32.321 (+0.502)||1’31.819|
|Average race lap||1’42.454|
Massa blamed traffic for failing to get into Q3. Half a second slower than Alonso in Q2, he lined up 12th on the grid.
Having got away quickly at the start he inexplicably took to the grass in an attempt to pass Nico Rosberg at the first corner, lost control and slammed into Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Force India, eliminating both.
Afterwards he said:
I think I was really cursed today. This morning in qualifying, because of traffic, I failed to get into Q3. This afternoon in the race, I didn’t even manage to get through the first two corners.
At the start, Rosberg, who was in front of me, got away poorly and at first I tried to move to the left, but Sutil was coming there. Then I moved to the right, but in so doing I found myself on the grass and the kerb. At that point the car took off on its own, I was unable to make it through the first corner and I ended up colliding with Liuzzi’s Force India.
Fifth-fastest in qualifying, narrowly pipped by Robert Kubica despite having faster sector times than the Renault driver in Q3.
Hamilton’s penalty and Kubica’s retirement promoted him to third. His car never looked like having the performance to take on the Red Bulls, making Suzuka an exercise in damage limitation:
In the first part, we ran a defensive race, trying to keep the McLarens at a distance, especially Jenson, who was on a very different strategy to ours.
Then when we realised they were no longer a threat we tried to put the Red Bulls under a bit of pressure, but there was nothing to be done. Here they were perfect and when that happens they are really hard to beat.
However, experience tells us that it is not always like this, or they would have already won the championship. So we must try and make the most of every opportunity.
We are trying to improve the F10 with every passing race: here for example we had a new oil from Shell and other minor aerodynamic updates. We will have further new parts in the next few races: maybe not so big but put together they could give us a few tenths which is always useful.
We come out of this weekend with our heads held high, knowing that we must try and beat Webber in the coming races to close down the gap to the top.
2010 Japanese Grand Prix
Image © Ferrari spa