Podium may seal another year at Ferrari for Massa
7 October 2012
Felipe Massa was jubilant at finding himself back on the podium after nearly two years' absence, as he claimed second place in the 2012 F1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
"Being back on the podium after almost two years away is just great and I feel really uplifted," he beamed. "They have been two tough years for me and, sometimes, a million things go through your mind, some of them bad, but finally I can be happy!
"This race motivates me even more for the rest of the season," he added. "It's even better getting back on the podium here, at a track I like so much and that I have known since the start of my career."
And that career suddenly looks to be a lot more promising looking ahead to the future as well after this weekend's result, with various sources suggesting that Ferrai had decided in advance that their decision on whether or not to retain Massa for 2013 would be decided on how he fared at Suzuka. If that's the case, then Massa can get his pen ready to apply his signature right now.
"It's an important result psychologically and also in terms of my future, at least I think so!" he agreed. "It's really a relief and I'm sure it will be so important for me, for my brain and for my future as well.
"Sometimes, in the hardest moments the best things come," he added. "The first people I want to thank right now are my family, my wife and my son."
Certainly team principal Stefano Domenicali was delighted by Massa's performance, which was vital to the team's constructor championship hopes after Fernando Alonso's first lap retirement.
"What a splendid race Felipe had, producing a truly impeccable performance. It was nice to see him back on the podium after a long, a too long time!," he said. "This second place is a very important result for him and for the team and it comes at one of the most difficult and delicate moments of the season."
That 'delicacy' was a clear allusion to the contract situation for 2013.
"Decisions regarding his future? One step at a time, as now we are enjoying this lovely podium together," said Domenicali, dodging the question for the time being.
The key to Massa's success came when he escaped the fallout from his team mate's spin through the first corner, which allowed him to jump past multiple cars in front taking avoiding action and slip into fourth place before anyone knew what was happening.
"I got a good start and managed to get through the chaos at the first corner unscathed and then I immediately felt I had a good pace and that I could keep close to Button and Kobayashi," he explained.
"I got past them at the pit stop thanks to a great strategy and immediately I realised that, even on the hard [compound tyres], my pace was competitive," he added. "The only difficult moment of the weekend, for which we still don't have a reason, was the damned second run in Q2."
"Felipe drove a fantastic race right from the start," added Ferrari's technical director Pat Fry. "He was quicker than Button in the first stint and was able to manage the tyres so as to delay his first stop which gave him the opportunity to get by at the pit stop.
"He managed it and also succeeded in passing Kobayashi, thus opening the door to a race based on two stops," Fry continued. "The same thing happened with the hard tyres, as he managed them very well, which set him up to get back on the podium after a break of almost two years."
The delight in Massa's corner of the Ferrari garage was balanced by the despondency over in Alonso's camp, although the Spaniard took a moment to hail his team mate for having "produced a perfect race."
"A bitter sweet Sunday afternoon for us here in Suzuka," agreed Pat Fry, as the team packed up and hoped for better fortune next weekend in Korea.