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2012-11-18 19:26

A TEAM PLAYER: Felipe Massa's qualifying penalty means Fernando Alonso will start in seventh place at the 2012 US GP.

TEXAS, USA - Felipe Massa took a five-place grid penalty for the 2012 US Formula 1 Grand Prix to help Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso stay in the title chase on November 18.

Massa qualified ahead of the Alonso, who is the only driver who can deny Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel a third successive championship. Vettel.

Ferrari said they had broken a seal on Massa's gearbox, incurring the mandatory penalty, for "strategy considerations, with the objective of maximizing Alonso's start potential."


The penalty means Alonso will now start in seventh place and, crucially, on the "clean" side of the grid.

Ferrari said: "We saw yesterday that starting from the dirty side of the track would have been penalizing: there was a significant risk of finding ourselves too far behind the leaders at the end of the first lap."

The team, whose constructors' title hopes are effectively over, said both drivers had agreed to the move.

Ferrari said: "We've always maintained that the interests of the team come before that of the individual drivers and this has always been our very transparent policy.
"Felipe has fully comprehended the reasons behind this decision and so he's once again proven his total dedication to the team - something for which we would publicly like to express our gratitude."

Red Bull boss Christian Horner shrugged off the controversial move, which is perfectly legal, while Vettel commented: "There's not much to feel about, it's their business."

Massa, who starts 11th, said Alonso had talked to him about the decision and did not seem troubled by something that also put him on the clean side.

Massa said: "It's difficult to find a driver like me."


Inside Wheels24

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