Felipe Massa has insisted that victory was a possibility at the incident-filled Canadian Grand Prix, despite the Brazilian driver’s explosive retirement from proceedings on the final lap after a collision with Sergio Perez.
At one stage Massa looked strong for victory when the Mercedes duo began suffering with mechanical gremlins, however a second pit-stop and final lap incident ended his chances of a return to the top step of the rostrum.
Despite being out-qualified by team-mate Valtteri Bottas and starting the 70-lap race from fifth position on the grid, the former Ferrari driver soon passed his Finnish team-mate, as Bottas began to suffer from severe overheating issues on his car. As the race leaders also began to struggle with mechanical issues, Felipe Massa began to quickly catch both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton for the lead of the race.
As the duo pitted on laps 44 and 45 respectively, Massa rose steadily into the lead of the race with his mechanics urging him to save his tyres which made many think he and Williams were going to try and perfect a one-stop strategy in a bid to secure victory.
However, Massa’s hopes of a return to the top step of the rostrum for the first time since 2008 were dashed, when he was forced to make a second and final stop several laps later, which allowed Rosberg to resume his lead of the race, with Hamilton being forced into retirement with brake issues.
Although Massa soon began to produce fastest laps down in seventh, he quickly found himself stuck behind his team-mate Bottas, Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Sergio Perez and Rosberg in what was a titanic battle for the race lead, as the Mercedes car faded.
Despite insinuating that his team should employ team orders to allow him to overtake his team-mate, Bottas soon made a mistake at turn ten in a bid to overtake Hulkenberg which enabled Massa to pounce and gain two positions.
As the race wore on it quickly became apparent that a race victory was out of Massa’s reach, however a battle for the final podium position between Vettel and Perez was brewing as the Mexican ace began to suffer from tyre wear after electing for a one-stop strategy.
As the trio began their final lap Massa collided with the Force India of Perez, sending both of them spiralling violently into the wall and into retirement.
Despite this disappointing end to his race, which saw him taken to both the trackside medical centre and local hospital for precautionary checks, Felipe Massa was adamant that a race victory was possible.
“I was one of the quickest guys on the track, so we lost many points today,” he explained. “I’m happy that I’m here with no problems but I’m so disappointed for what happened with Perez, and also for the pit-stop because I think maybe we could even have fought for victory today. But it shows we have a good car and I’m convinced the next race will be better.”
Despite the clear pace of the Mercedes-powered Williams and their competitive performance during winter testing, neither Massa nor Bottas have stepped onto the podium so far this season.
While Massa remains optimistic ahead of the Formula One circus’ returns to Europe for the Austrian Grand Prix, the Grove-based outfit currently sits just sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, behind Force India and McLaren with 58 points.
Picture Copyright © Williams F1 Team