Felipe Massa has admitted that he took some pleasure out of beating Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen to third place in the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sunday, particularly after the Finn's alternative strategy saw him close in on third at the end.

The two Scuderia pilots had opted to start on different tyres, with Raikkonen one of the few to go for the less optimal harder compound with a view to being able to run the softer, faster rubber in the closing stages. Unfortunately for the Finn, a poor getaway negated any advantage he may have been looking for, dropping him from fourth on the grid to sixth at the first turn.

Good pit work at each of his two stops allowed Raikkonen to regain his original position, but Massa's lead over his team-mate was such that he rejoined in front of the Finn after his final tyre change. Raikkonen, however, had the tyre advantage, with Massa having to run the harder rubber in the final stint, and the pair were soon running nose-to-tail.

A minor error from the Brazilian at the start of lap 65 appeared to give Raikkonen the opportunity he was looking for, but Massa defended stoutly through the following corners and back straight, denying the pass, before going on to secure third spot by 2.5secs. Asked if he thought Raikkonen may have been told to hold station in fourth, Massa insisted that the only instruction was 'to race'.

"There was big pressure," a relieved Brazilian admitted after the podium celebrations, "Kimi was on different tyres to me and, for sure, he had better grip at the end of the race. The degradation was not incredible compared to the hard, which was just sliding around - it was difficult to keep the rear on the ground. Kimi was very much able to close the gap, and was very quick, so it was very difficult for me to keep him behind."

Massa was quick to acknowledge that he may have been in more trouble had his team-mate not been bottled up behind both Nick Heidfeld and Heikki Kovalainen in the opening stages.

"Kimi didn't have a new set of softs, but he didn't want to start on a scrubbed set because maybe he'd lose grip on the start, so he started on a new hard set," he revealed, "I didn't see it, but I saw that he lost some places [at the start], so maybe it was not the right choice.

"I did a good start, he didn't, and I could manage to make a good gap there. When he got close, it was after the last pit-stop. That was good - I managed to keep the car on the track, not making mistakes, and just kept him behind."

Although he had managed to close the gap slightly with fifth place in Canada the week before, Raikkonen lost some of the points he had gained by finishing behind Massa - and the McLarens - at Indianapolis, leaving him 26 points off Lewis Hamilton's overall lead and seven shy of Massa.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...