F1 » 25 March 2012
Massa's day made worse by threat of Perez
Felipa Massa had another poor day at the race track. What made his 15th position feel even worse was that his team mate won the race, and his mooted replacement Sergio Perez shone in second.
At times it was painful to watch Felipe Massa trying to grapple the Ferrari F2012 around the Sepang International Circuit in the rain-hit Malaysian Grand Prix. Whatever he tried just didn't work, and the day went into a death spiral in a very public way.
"Obviously I am disappointed with my result," said the Brazilian. "When the track was drying, I suffered more and more with tyre degradation and I could not maintain a good pace."
The team hit upon the idea of shadowing Mercedes' strategy with Nico Rosberg just ahead on the road, but that backfired.
"We opted to follow what Rosberg was doing ahead of me, as he too was apparently struggling with his tyres," Massa explained. "But it did not work out and we lost a lot of time with this extra stop, given also that the others stayed on track for around a dozen laps more before switching to the dry tyres."
The big question for Massa and for Ferrari is how Fernando Alonso can wrestle the car to an unlikely win, while Massa was stuck so far down the running order all weekend.
"It is important for us to try and understand why there is such a strong difference in the way our cars perform," he agreed. Ultimately, our aim is to have a more competitive car in as short a time as possible.”
His team principal Stefano Domenicali and the team's technical director Pat Fry pledged to do all that they could to help Massa get back on an even footing with Alonso.
"We have an obligation to stay close to him, which is as it should be in such a closely knit team," said Domenicali. "This is a particularly difficult moment for him, because he cannot get the most out of a car that, objectively, is very difficult to drive."
"We must try and understand why, for him, the car ends up being even more unstable in terms of its handling compared to the way it works for his team-mate," agreed Fry. "It is one of our tasks for these coming days along with obviously trying to find the tenths in performance terms that we are still lacking."
Almost worse than having his own team mate win the race in such stark contrast to his own Malaysia fortunes, Massa has to watch the driver strongly rumoured to be in line to replace Massa in the team when his contract expires at the end of the year.
Domenicali had earlier even made a point of congratulating Perez after his outstanding performance in the wet conditions at Sepang, saying: "I want to congratulate Sauber, who today secured their best ever result and congratulations also to Sergio Perez, a youngster from the Ferrari Driver Academy, who today confirmed his great talent.”
There were no witnesses on hand to know whether or not Massa winced when overhearing that, but if nothing else he must know that he has to get on top of his current problems or his time remaining at Maranello is fast running out.
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