Alonso was on top form as he held off Vettel for second while Massa had another run-in with Hamilton.
|Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’30.886 (+0.082)||1’30.804|
Ferrari drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
|Pit stop 1||Soft 21.147s|
|Pit stop 2||Soft 21.319s|
|Pit stop 3||Medium 20.731s|
“I seem to have a season ticket for fifth place this year,” said Alonso after qualifying there for the seventh time this year. Unusually, one of the four cars in front of him was that of his team mate, for only the third time in 2011.
Alonso ran behind Massa at the start but passed him at turn one using DRS at the start of lap six.
As usual the 150?é?? Italia made best use of its tyres towards the end of a stint, which brought Alonso within range of the leaders.
He used that trait to stay out four laps longer than Sebastian Vettel at the end of his third stint, postponing his switch to medium tyres. That allowed him to come out of the pits in front of the Red Bull driver.
He came under considerable pressure from Vettel but aside from moving off-line on the approach to turn one, had to do little to defend his position.
Towards the end of the race Alonso also closed on leader Jenson Button, but crossed the finishing line a second behind the McLaren.
Alonso said: “With Sebastian it was difficult to keep him behind as at that part of the race he was quicker than us. I tried to defend the position in braking for the last corners and into the first corner as well, where the DRS was active.
“After we had done this job we saw we were catching a little bit Jenson, so we tried in the last couple of laps but, as we saw later on, Jenson was taking care about tyres, about his car, so it was impossible to fight for victory this time.”
|Pit stop 1||Soft 21.313s|
|Pit stop 2||Soft 21.214s|
|Pit stop 3||Medium 21.1s|
Massa made no attempt to defend him place from Alonso at the start of the race, prompting claims he’d been told to let Alonso pass, which Ferrari were quick to refute.
Massa caught the struggling Lewis Hamilton during his second stint and attempted to pass him on the outside at the chicane on lap 21. Hamilton, who later claimed not to have seen Massa, squeezed him hard and knocked part of the front wing off the Ferrari.
Hamilton pitted at the end of the lap and Massa responded the next time by, picking up a place from the McLaren while simultaneously losing one to Mark Webber.
After both had switched to medium tyres Hamilton came back at Massa, passing him in the DRS zone on lap 38. Unlike with his team mate Massa made an attempt to defend his position but the result was the same.
The pair were then held up behind Nico Rosberg, which allowed Michael Schumacher to get out of the pits ahead of the Ferrari driver, pushing Massa down to seventh.
Massa fumed over Hamilton’s driving after the race – the pair have collided several times this year and twice in the last two races: “My car was definitely damaged by [the contact].
“When I looked at it after the race, I saw there was a bit of the front wing end plate missing and the floor was not on properly on the left hand side and I could feel it in the way my car was behaving.
“I think the footage speaks for itself: he was struggling with his tyres and I had almost come alongside him and for no reason, he moved over and hit me. I let you be the judge… It?óÔé¼Ôäós pointless for me to say any more about it.”
2011 Japanese Grand Prix
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