Felipe Massa has claimed that his Ferrari team cost him the opportunity of a top five finish at Abu Dhabi with a wrong call on tyre strategy.
Massa had been running in fifth, ahead of his team-mate Fernando Alonso when he made his second stop of the race with just 17 laps remaining.
However, much to Massa’s bewilderment, his Ferrari team sent him out on a set of the slower medium compound Pirelli tyres, on which he fell behind not only his team-mate Fernando Alonso, who stopped six laps later for the soft tyres, and who came home fifth, but also Paul di Resta and Lewis Hamilton.
Following the race Massa remained adamant that the call had been a mistake, insisting that he could have finished in the top five if he had been given the soft tyres for his final stint, as was expected.
“The team made a mistake,” he said. “I didn’t expect to use the mediums at the last stop, I expected to use the softs. I did nineteen laps in the beginning, and then we decided to stop in the last moment, the second time, and I expected to see the soft tires on the car, and I was saw the other one. That was the mistake of my race.”
“Without this problem I would have finished easily in the top five. I would have get obviously behind Ricciardo, pass him in two corners, I would be behind Hamilton, I would pass him easily on a different tire, maybe one second quicker with a free track in front. That was a mistake.”
The Brazilian, who is set to be replaced at Ferrari by Kimi Raikkonen for 2014, denied any notion that the team’s decision to run the medium tyre on his car in the final stint had been an attempt to purposely alter his finishing position.
“For sure not,” he clarified. “The team needs bonds, the team needs to score as many points as possible, you would never do that. It’s not really even close to my mind.
“I believe in the team and I will believe until the last moment. But today, the first thing I said: it was a mistake. That’s the thing, we could have scored more points today.”
The 32-year-old, who currently sits eighth in the drivers’ championship, remains without a confirmed drive for 2014, although rumours continue to link him with a move to Williams.
Image courtesy of Pirelli Media