Alonso moves forward as Massa takes penalty

2012 United States Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Fernando 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?s car which means that he?ll get a five-place grid penalty.

“The reason for this was for strategy considerations, with the objective of maximising Alonso?s start potential given that he?s 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?ve 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?s 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.

2012 United States Grand Prix

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161 comments on Alonso moves forward as Massa takes penalty

  1. Daniel Thomas (@iamdanthomas) said on 18th November 2012, 17:14

    It’s no more ridiculous than team orders, but is exactly what LDM means when he talks about having ‘one rooster’ in a team. Why is anyone surprised? It makes perfect sense for them to do this.

    They’re not disrespecting the rules or being sneaky – they’re losing five places and gaining one. It’s a matter of priorities.

    It also illustrates how little Ferrari care about the WCC, as they are willing to surrender 2nd place to McLaren to give Alonso a better shot at the WDC.

    • Kremer (@kremer) said on 18th November 2012, 17:21

      It also illustrates how little Ferrari care about the WCC, as they are willing to surrender 2nd place to McLaren to give Alonso a better shot at the WDC.

      Exactly my reaction. Sacrificing everything for WDC.

      • DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 18th November 2012, 17:25

        Don’t Ferrari get extra money regardless of where they finish in he WCC? Red Bull already have it in the bag so they won’t get first. In terms of the prize money, I doubt there is little difference for Ferrari whether they finish 2nd or 3rd.

        • PJ (@pjtierney) said on 18th November 2012, 17:30

          Ferrari also get a bonus on top of the Constructor position. (either 17% of something or £17 million, I can’t remember which but I read it somewhere).

          • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 19th November 2012, 0:26

            Ferrari do get a bonus, but since this is regardless of finishing position (I think) the actual difference between 2nd or 3rd is the same size regardless of this fact so Ferrari are no less financially motivated than without the bonus.

    • Andrei (@andrei) said on 18th November 2012, 17:29

      they’re losing five places

      Or not. Massa is a great starter and they know it. ;)
      Anyway, in words of Professor M: “Oh no, it’s happened again…”. Poor Felipe.

  2. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 18th November 2012, 17:17

    May not be the most popular thing to do but its the logical thing to do.

    Everyone is expecting the left side of the grid to be really low grip & for everyone starting on that side to go backwards. Ferrari need Alonso to move forward at the start so they need him on the clean side.

    If I were running Ferrari I’d have likely done the same.

  3. wonder if they will find ,front wing tips flexing at high speed? RBR sure know how to play the rule book….the leading edge rolls over on hard braking …

  4. Polishboy808 (@polishboy808) said on 18th November 2012, 17:20

    Is anyone surprised? Great strategy by Ferrari, a little unfair though. At least this means that theres a shot at this championship still being close going into Brazil, whereas if Alonso started on the dirty side it would probably be over. This is great for those that want a close championship, and awful for those wanting a Vettel championship.

  5. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 18th November 2012, 17:22

    Because of such dirty games, that Ferrari are playing, they don’t win championships anymore.

  6. PaxJes (@paxjes) said on 18th November 2012, 17:23

    this is bad karma.
    if there’s no problem with Massas’s car then it goes against the sporting rules and fair play.

    The championship gets decided today, you just watch.

  7. Ed Marques (@edmarques) said on 18th November 2012, 17:24

    Great strategy? They learned well from Machiavelli…

    Come on Maldonado, take one for F1 and crash Alonso out on the first corner!

  8. Axl2000 said on 18th November 2012, 17:26

    Might seem like a sensible thing to do and not technically cheating but what about the other drivers who now switch to the poor side of the grid. Ferrari doing this has penalised them and I think both cars should be sent to the back of the grid. Was actually rooting for Alonso up to now but now hope Red Bull finish it off today.

  9. lluismf said on 18th November 2012, 17:27

    Massa will lose any remaining self-respect for this, if I was brazilian I would be ashamed of him. Too bad we have to wait yet another season to get rid of this puppet.

    • Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 18th November 2012, 17:39

      I don’t think Massa had a choice, Domenicali has the final say.

    • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 18th November 2012, 17:46

      As a Brazilian I’m not going to say I’m ashamed of him, because I’ve never been a fan of his and nationalism has never been my thing, but deep inside I hoped Felipe would just stick his middle finger to Ferrari and quit already. He may not be the great driver he was before 2009, but he’s certainly greater than this kind of treatment. Stuff like this didn’t even happen between Schumacher and Barrichello (not that I can remember at least!).

    • Postreader said on 18th November 2012, 17:48

      Pray tell, would you consider yourself a puppet if you employee asked you to do something along these lines? Would you really prefer being fired?

  10. claudioff (@claudioff) said on 18th November 2012, 17:28

    I think Ferrari should put this kind of ingenuity on their next car.

  11. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 18th November 2012, 17:29

    It’s very unsportsmanlike. Brilliant, and exactly what we would all do in that position, but unsportsmanlike.

  12. OOliver said on 18th November 2012, 17:29

    This is what I like about Ferrari, they are always thinking. Going backwards to move forward is innovative thinking.
    Ferrari need a WDC, Mass winning the race is of no use if Alonso losses the championship.

  13. NickV (@nickv) said on 18th November 2012, 17:32

    This is just Ferrari making use of a loop hole in the rules, just as Red Bull did in Abu Dhabi, starting Vettel from the pit lane so he could change to a more favourable set up for the race. Teams do this sort of thing all the time in different ways – F1 is all about exploiting the regulations, right from the first pencil stroke of the car design.

  14. StephenH said on 18th November 2012, 17:35

    All of this reminds me of the days of when they used to have the Sunday morning warm-up in F1, when particularly at dusty tracks like the Hungaroring, the drivers would deliberatly run thier cars down the ‘dirty’ side of the grid to clean it up before the start of the race proper.

    One wonders if they would re-introduce it to prevent this twisting of the rules Ferrari have done. And I’m sorry, but now I really hope Vettel wraps up the title today.

  15. Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 18th November 2012, 17:41

    It’s not against the rules, but it is against the spirit of the rules. It’s not exactly an honest or honorable thing to do.

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