Fernando Alonso will start from seventh on the grid for the United States Grand Prix after Ferrari decided to change the gearbox on Felipe Massa’s car.
Massa will take a five-place penalty for changing the gearbox, dropping him from sixth on the grid to eleventh. Alonso in turn will move up from eighth to seventh.
Significantly, both will now start from the clean side of the track, which is expected to confer a significant advantage over those starting off-line.
Ferrari issued the following statement: “We’ve decided to accept the penalty normally associated with the gearbox change on Felipe?óÔé¼Ôäós car which means that he?óÔé¼Ôäóll get a five-place grid penalty.
“The reason for this was for strategy considerations, with the objective of maximising Alonso?óÔé¼Ôäós start potential given that he?óÔé¼Ôäós still in with a chance to win the drivers’ championship.
“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.
“It was a decision agreed by both drivers. We?óÔé¼Ôäóve 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?óÔé¼Ôäós once again proven his total dedication to the team – something for which we would publicly like to express our gratitude.”
The FIA confirmed Ferrari “broke one seal on the gearbox of car number six, driver Felipe Massa. The seal was applied on the [right-hand side] cross shaft cover.”
See the updated United States Grand Prix starting grid.
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Image ?é?® Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo