Felipe Massa finished fifth in Singapore after a marathon 38-lap final stint
"I was driving like a grandmother," Brazilian jokes
By Mike Wise in Singapore
Last Updated: 22/09/14 9:08am
So just how did Felipe Massa make a set of tyres last 38 laps in the Singapore GP? “I was driving like a grandmother,” joked the Brazilian after finishing a fighting fifth on Sunday night.
Like a number of drivers, Massa switched over from a three to a two-stop strategy when the Safety Car came out midway through the 60-lap race.
However, nobody made their tyres last quite as long as the Williams driver, who admitted that the weekend had been a case of damage limitation for the Grove team at a track where they’d expected to struggle.
Williams still stand third in the Constructors’ Championship ahead of Ferrari, although team-mate Valtteri Bottas was unable to pull off the same trick – the Finn falling out of the points on the very last lap.
Massa made his final stop on lap 22, nine laps before the Safety Car came out when Sergio Perez and Adrian Sutil collided.
The race was under caution for six laps in all but Massa said Williams only made the decision to keep him out three laps after racing resumed – with the driver unsure he could make it to the chequered flag without stopping again.
“I was pushing on these three laps. For me, it was a joke when they said that. Because there were still 25 laps or something still to go,” Massa said.
“I said, ‘I don’t think it will be possible but I try’. Then I changed completely my driving style.
“For sure, I was slower than I was supposed to be. But I was still quicker than everybody behind.”
Massa claimed the first podium of his Williams career in Italy two weeks ago but was only 17th fastest in practice on Friday before the team made set-up improvements.
“I think we finished in the best position we were supposed to finish. So I’m very happy with the race,” he said.
“We didn’t have a car that was quicker than Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes. But we were quicker than all of the others.”
The team have upgrades for the upcoming Japanese GP at Suzuka, a track which should suit their FW36 car better.
“I think this race was like damage limitation for us, so I’m sure the car can be better on the next tracks – maybe all of the tracks until the last race,” Massa added.
Bottas had shadowed Massa during the closing laps but fell back to 11th at the end as his tyres wilted.
The Finn said that a power steering problem hadn’t helped. “I felt like I couldn’t do a perfect job managing the tyres because of the issue with the steering,” said Bottas.
“I tried in the end everything I could to manage the tyres and defend. It’s a shame; just one or two laps too many.”