Felipe Massa says after suffering with a drop in race pace with his Williams throughout the Japanese Grand Prix holding on to 10th place ahead of Fernando Alonso was ‘better than nothing’.

The Brazilian driver, who came into the race weekend with his race seat under threat from Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta who are set for private F1 tests with Williams, says he couldn’t understand a sudden slower race pace as he struggled to get on top of tyre degradation in the closing laps of the Suzuka race.

Despite losing places to both Haas drivers, Massa held on to 10th place and a single championship point at the chequered flag against Alonso as the pair were caught out by blue flags with race leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen fighting for victory behind them.

“It was a very difficult race for us, I was struggling with the degradation of the tyres with both sets,” Massa said. “The other cars had better pace than us today and it’s difficult to understand why. At the end, I lost positions to both Haas in a move that was a little bit tricky, but they were much quicker than me anyway. If they didn’t pass me there, I think they could have passed me afterwards with the pace difference.

“I’m not happy with the pace today, but looking at the problems we had, we still finished in front of Renault and Toro Rosso, and one point is better than nothing.”

It was a miserable race on the opposite side of the Williams garage as Lance Stroll tumbled out of the race due to a puncture on lap 46 and narrowly avoided Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo when his Williams careered back on to the track on the Suzuka Esses.

“I had a really good start and was up to 11th, but then I made a mistake in Turn 11, hit Magnussen and I think something went on the car,” Stroll said. “I had to box really early as I thought something was broken or I had a puncture.

“Then I had a long stint on the soft tyre, working my way back up, but we were out of the points at that stage. I then felt there was something a bit strange at the front end, and then had a puncture. It is always surprising when you get a puncture, as it is very much unexpected and unfortunate at the same time.

“I was very close to Ricciardo when I came back on the circuit, but I managed to brake without anything happening.”


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