While Felipe Massa
was naturally delighted to have returned to an F1 podium for the first time in almost two full years, he had cause to reflect on the non-finish that could cause team-mate Fernando Alonso
to miss out on bringing this year's world title back to Maranello.
The Spaniard, who went into the weekend with a 29-point advantage over second-placed Sebastian Vettel, was eliminated at the first turn, the victim of a touch from Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus that punctured his left rear tyre and sent him spinning across the grass. With Vettel subsequently cruising to victory, the margin between them heading to this weekend's Korean round is just four points, leaving Massa to reflect on what might have been had Alonso been able to continue.
"I would say our car was competitive here, not compared with the Red Bulls, but I think we had very good pace in the race," he noted, "We had very good pace in practice as well - when I did a long run on Friday, I was one of the quickest guys on the track, so I think the car was good here. I'm sure Fernando would have done a good job today."
Asked what Ferrari
needed to do to bring its level of performance up to match that of Red Bull, which many believe to have unlocked the potential of 'double DRS' at Suzuka, Massa admitted that the Scuderia still needed to keep working, but reasoned that the balance of power could continue to shift from race to race.
"We need to improve, we need to bring more new pieces, we need to push in that direction, to improve the car," he insisted, "I'm sure that starting in the top five would have been good as the race was today. Starting at the front is very important, but I was fourth after corner three....
"[We couldn't match Red Bull] on this track. I think that, here, Sebastian has incredible pace compared to all the other cars. We saw that in qualifying and, in the race, it was the same, [but] I think it changes from track to track. Maybe this was a track where they were stronger during the whole championship. I think we need to wait and see [what happens from] track to track.
"We need to keep pushing very hard, [and] we need to work very hard in the factory to bring the right pieces for the car as well. Nothing is finished for Fernando. He did many many good races until now. What happened today was not nice for him, but these things happen in the championship. It's important that we push hard and concentrate on the next race. He's still leading the championship and that's important."
While Massa's 18 points further cemented his position in the championship top ten, it also helped Ferrari
put another ten between itself and Lotus in the battle for third spot in the constructors' race.
"Clearly, we were not as strong as the Red Bulls, but we were definitely a match for the McLarens that, in Singapore, had seemed out of our reach," technical chief Pat Fry surmised, "We must not react in an emotional fashion, but rather we need to stay calm and concentrate on the job of developing the car. That's the best way to react, right from the very next race in Korea.
"We brought some reasonably significant updates to the last few races and there's more to come for the next ones. It's true that, sometimes, Singapore for example, not all of them worked in the right way, but it's equally true that that is something that has happened to others in this season of highs and lows. Now we start again, practically from scratch, and everything will hang on the development of the car race-by-race. We must try to be better than the others and we know we have every possibility of doing just that.”