Felipe Massa admits there was little he could have done to stop Lewis Hamilton cantering to victory in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton led from pole and dominated the race, while Massa struggled with the handling of his Ferrari and was forced to settle for second place. Even that result was achieved with the support of team mate Kimi Raikkonen who yielded to the Brazilian in the dying laps.
As a result, Massa sees his title gap to Hamilton grow to seven points ahead of the season finale at his home race in Sau Paulo.
“I didn’t have a good start,” the Ferrari driver recounted. “There is no grip on the outside and we just stayed in the same position.”
“Lewis was a bit stronger at the beginning of the race and started to pull away around two to three tenths per lap.”
“This made, for sure, his race more comfortable, and for us we were completely driving on the limit trying to reduce the gap, but it wasn’t possible. Unfortunately Lewis had the better car for the whole weekend.”
Massa cited the handling of his F2008 on the harder tyres as a chief reason for his lack of pace in Shanghai. That meant starting and running the middle stint on the softer tyres, while McLaren enjoyed a distinct advantage on the harder Bridgestone rubber.
“We took the decision to start on the soft tyres,” he explained after the race. Our car works differently to the other cars, especially compared to McLaren, and for us the hard was very difficult to drive. Soft was the only option for us in the second stint.”
Despite acknowledging that he had underperformed in China, Massa took heart from Ferrari’s podium lock-out, which sees the Italian team extend their lead to eleven points over McLaren in the constructors’ championship.
“It was not the best time for me in the race,” Massa admitted. “The drivers’ championship was not that great, but the constructors’ was very good. I tried (to close) the drivers championship but it wasn’t possible.”