Massa column: Vettel too forceful in Singapore GP start
Felipe Massa reflects on a challenging Singapore Grand Prix and offers his view on the controversial accident between the Ferraris and Max Verstappen at the start.
I had been expecting an uphill weekend in Singapore, which was confirmed in many respects, but I left the track with the satisfaction that we were at least close to finishing in the top 10.
As seems to be the rule for everyone in Singapore, we experienced a weekend full of unforeseen events at the Marina Bay circuit. In my case it started with a poor qualifying. On my final lap in Q1, I made a mistake by touching one of the walls on the track.
It was a moment that cost me between six and seven tenths, and meant I failed to make it through to Q2. I do not think we would have been able to get in to Q3, but I was sorry not to have been able to deliver fully on the potential we had available.
On Sunday, the weather forecasts proved correct, as shortly before the race the rain arrived – and got more intense as we got closer to the start. It meant a tough choice deciding on which tyre to begin the race.
The wet qualifying at Monza, a track which does not have great grip, showed that the full-wet was the thing to have. I felt we could potentially find ourselves in similar conditions in Singapore, as the streets there are normal public roads that were unlikely to give you great traction in the wet.
The only major difference to Monza was the temperature, but I thought that starting from the back on the full wet tyre would be less risky – especially in the first laps. That then would give me a chance to gain some positions on those who had taken more chances with the intermediates.
My tyre choice seemed obvious, but within a few moments I realised that my evaluation was not the right one – because my times were slower than many of my midfield rivals.
I didn't even have great chances to win positions in the opening corners because those ahead of me on intermediates had the best tyres from the very first few metres.
Once the times had stabilised, and the team had noted the different pace of the tyres, the safety car came out for Daniil Kvyat's crash and I thought it would be a good time to switch to the intermediate tyres.
I told the team over the radio, but they told me to stay out on the track, as they wanted to try and avoid an extra stop for intermediates and move me straight onto dry tyres. Even though I was not convinced about the choice, I kept going.
I obviously gained some positions over those who had pitted for fresh intermediates, but once the race got going again my rhythm was really slow. It was really hard to find a decent race pace, and suddenly I found myself dropping off the pack by 20 seconds in just three laps.
When I finally pitted for intermediates, on the first lap out, I was five-and-a-half seconds quicker than my previous best lap – and from that moment on the race pace was good.
Unfortunately, the previously lost ground could not be recovered and in the end I failed to get into the top 10 before the chequered flag.
Williams Martini Racing did at least get four points thanks to Lance Stroll's good finish, holding back Renault's push in the constructors' championship, so that was the best news of the weekend.
After the race, I noticed the great stirring in the paddock because of the startline crash. I have to say that I didn't see anything in the first moments of the race, since there was just a wall of water in front of me.
Since then I have had the chance to watch the start on television, and I think Sebastian Vettel was just a little too forceful when he tried to defend his lead – which triggered everything else happening. Of course Max Verstappen is still young, but in the end I do not think he made any mistake.
When you are like Sebastian and get to this stage of the world championship, and you are still fighting for the title, it all gets very complex. I would have thought that Sebastian would have only wanted to cover Lewis Hamilton – since they are alone in their battle for the crown.
An F1 season has plenty of episodes like this. Sometimes they are insignificant, but at other times – especially when your rival's competitiveness is very close - they are the very things that can make the difference in the end.
I still remember what happened in Singapore 2008. It was one of the most unlucky races of my career, and I will never forget the weight it had on my season.
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About this article
|Location||Singapore Street Circuit|
|Drivers||Felipe Massa Shop Now|
|Article type||Special feature|