Felipe Massa was left to rue a sticking wheel nut on his final pit stop of the German Grand Prix after missing out on a fourth place finish at the Nurburgring.

The Brazilian had enjoyed one of his better races this season after battling back from a poor start to run fourth, having spent the early stages of the race stuck behind the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in sixth.

Having got ahead of the German, Massa then climbed into fourth after jumping Sebastian Vettel during the opening round of stops and the pair then ran together before pitting at the start of the final lap to switch to the medium compound Pirelli tyres.

Unfortunatley for Massa, a small issue with a rear wheel nut meant Vettel was able to jump ahead and prevent him from taking his best finish of the season to date as he was forced instead to settle for fifth for the third successive race.

"It was a good race, in which I went head to head with Vettel for many laps," he said. "A shame about the time lost at the start behind Rosberg: the Mercedes is one of the hardest cars to overtake because it is very quick on the straights.

"Sure, I would have preferred to have stayed ahead of the World Champion right to the end, but at the final pit stop there was a problem with the wheel nut on the left rear which cost me a few seconds: these things happen and recrimination achieves nothing."

Ferrari technical chief Pat Fry said the team would look into the issue with the wheel nut as part of its continued development work to try and avoid a repeat.

"[Massa] lost time at the start behind a Mercedes, which are very quick in a straight line and then he lost a well deserved fourth place at the final pit stop," he said. "A shame, but we know we must work a lot on certain aspects of the car like the wheel nut, which has given us problems this season."