Felipe Massa has admitted that it was good to have 'stepped up' in the Korean Grand Prix, both onto the podium and, metaphorically, in support of team-mate Fernando Alonso's championship bid.
The Brazilian was referring to Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo's call for improved performance over the final few races and, even though he was not in a position to take points away from either Red Bull driver, or even McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, his third place was good enough to thrust the Scuderia back into contention for the constructors' championship. The podium was Massa's first since Monza - and his fifth in a year that began with second and third places in Bahrain and Australia, but also saw him deprived of victory by team orders in Germany - and came at the end of one of the toughest races of the campaign.
“A great result at the end of a very difficult race," was how the Brazilian summed it up, "I am very pleased, for myself and for the team. Fernando did a great job but, after two poor weekends, I am happy to have stepped up onto the podium once again. We were a bit lucky, but we also did a good job, proving to be competitive on this track, and it means good points for the team."
Having been delayed by ten minutes, then red-flagged after just two laps behind the safety car, there were doubts whether the inaugural Korean Grand Prix would go far enough to warrant a full allocation of points, but Massa was full of praise for race director Charlie Whiting's handling of the event, even if he felt it was allowed to go on too long once darkness began to fall.
"I want to thank the race director, who did an excellent job of managing the situation, making the right decisions as to when to start the race and when to bring in the safety car at the right moment," he said, "By the end, it was almost dark and the intermediate tyres were deteriorating, especially the rears.
"We saw very tricky conditions at the beginning. The visibility was almost zero, so it was very difficult to see where the car in front was - I can't imagine what the visibility was like for the people behind, as I was sixth, not that far in front, and it was quite difficult - and, at the end, it definitely was very, very dark. We have a very strong light on the steering wheel, and it was difficult to see in front as it was coming very strong on your face.
"But, anyway, I think it was a good race, if a very difficult race. I was struggling a bit on the intermediates at the start of the second stint. In the first ten or 15 laps, the pace was very good, all three guys together, but then I was struggling with the rear tyres, so I was going back and back. I couldn't carry the same pace, but the distance between me and Michael [Schumacher] was quite okay to bring the car home and I think it was a great result for the team.
di Montezemolo, meanwhile, admitted that 'Felipe brought home a very important third place'.
"It was great to see him on the podium with his team-mate and Chris Dyer,” the Italian noted.