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Tyre management key for Massa

NEWS STORY
22/09/2012

Qualifying some eight-tenths of a second off the pace of his teammate, Felipe Massa expects a long, gruelling race tomorrow.

The Brazilian only narrowly avoided becoming the victim of the qualifying hour's first phase, which ultimately claimed Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi. "I'd just used one set of softs and I was waiting in the car," he said, as Kobayashi set upon his ultimately failed qualifying lap. "I was ready to go out on the supersoft. I didn't go because I saw that it was no problem."

Bolting on a set of supersoft Pirelli's Massa found almost 1.5s in the second part of the session, setting a time that was ultimately good enough for thirteenth. The Brazilian could consider himself lucky not to be at least one place further back given countryman Bruno Senna's performance; the William's driver clouted the wall without setting a time while Pastor Maldonado in the sister car ultimately qualified second.

Ferrari had been confident heading in to the weekend, its optimism seemingly evaporating with the rain that fell ahead of opening practice. However Massa is not surprised by the lack of pace, suggesting it's simply a continuation of the team's 2012 form.

"We've never had the quickest car all season," he argued, suggesting the team's performance, and the fact his teammate is leading the drivers championship, is a result of other factors. "Fernando was able to score points in every race apart from Spa," he continued. "That's also why he's so good in the championship, he did a great job as well, but he's also collecting points."

Under pressure to retain his drive, despite growing opinion that the Brazilian is an accurate barometer of his team's true performance level, Massa needs points. Whether they're on offer this weekend he's unsure, though he suggests strategy and tyre management will play an important role if he's to have any hope.

"This is a difficult race. Many things happen here on this track, so we will try to be careful," he said. "Tyre degradation is a problem for us, not just for us but I mean it's a problem here.

"Doing the right strategy as well until the end is important for the race," he continued. "For sure, if you have an improvement tomorrow compared to what you had today it is always positive.

"If we don't for sure we're going to suffer on the tyres."

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