Felipe Massa has blamed Mercedes’ slow formation lap for his clutch failure at the start of the British Grand Prix, a tactic he insists was deliberate.
Massa, who started just 15th after a qualifying blunder by his Williams team on Saturday, was left on the grid at the start of the race after his clutch failed.
The Brazilian managed to get away from the grid after a minor delay, only to then be caught up in Kimi Raikkonen’s heavy accident at the entry to the Wellington Straight, which ultimately put him out of the race.
Speaking to reporters following the race, Massa questioned what he called an unnecessarily slow formation lap, the pace of which was dictated by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, which he believes caused his clutch failure on the grid, and subsequent slow start.
“The problem is that all these cars go very slow on the formation lap,” explained the Brazilian. “We stopped on the track and my clutch went very high temperature, so it didn’t work.
“The car was not moving, then it went into anti-stall and then I was last. It’s a shame as normally the start is never a problem.
“They [Mercedes] go slow for a reason,” he added. “That’s not so good for the other teams, especially for us.
“I stopped two times [on the formation lap]. It was so slow we couldn’t do burnouts.
“My car was smoking at the rear on the grid. It’s definitely thanks to the slow formation lap.”
Asked if the tactic was a deliberate attempt to disadvantage other teams, Massa agreed, stating: “Yes, you cannot go slow just because you want. They are doing it on purpose and they’ve down so at most of the races. At the first races it was even worse.”
The Brazilian revealed that the issue of Mercedes’ slow formation laps has been raised to the FIA, but despite promises to snuff out the practice, nothing had yet been done.
“We were complaining [after] many races this year,” he said. “The FIA have said we cannot go so slow, but they didn’t do anything. They never penalised anybody.
“We always complain. Charlie said he would look strongly at that, but he never gave any penalties.
“I think if they penalised one car because of that, giving them five positions [a penalty] everything would change.”
Had it not been for the clutch failure, which he believes is a direct consequence of Mercedes slow formation laps, Massa insists he would have been in the fight for the podium, a result that would have seen Williams overhaul his old team Ferrari in the constructors’ championship.
“It would have been a great race, the car was flying today,” he explained. “Today we would have both finished on the podium and we would have been third in the championship.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.