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OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU MICHAEL SCHUMACHER!

Ferrari had a sunny outlook before rain came Print E-mail
Monday, 13 June 2011
Image"How's the visibility?" Ferrari's Felipe Massa was asked over his car radio during Sunday's rain-delayed Canadian Grand Prix.

"Okay," the Brazilian calmly reported back.

Too bad he couldn't say the same about his team's fortunes after all was said and done.

Going into the race, it looked like Montreal was the place Ferrari was finally going to get its season into gear. The team put together its best qualifying performance of 2011, with Fernando Alonso occupying the second position on the starting grid, and Massa third.

But it didn't take too long before things began to unravel for the red cars at sodden Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Shortly after mid-race, Alonso ended up beaching his car on a curb after coming into contact with the McLaren of eventual winner Jenson Button. Replays showed the two cars entering Turn 3 side-by-side, with enough room for only one driver to get through. Alonso lost out, and his day was done.

The incident was put under investigation by the race stewards, but Button was cleared of any wrongdoing after his dramatic last-lap victory. For Alonso, it put an end to his run of points finishes that dates back to last year's Belgian Grand Prix.

"It's a real shame because today we really had a good race pace, but we were unlucky," the Spaniard said. "That's not a feeling I have - it's a fact."

With his retirement, Ferrari's remaining hopes fell on Massa - and for a while, it looked like he might deliver something special.

With his retirement, Ferrari's remaining hopes fell on Massa - and for a while, it looked like he might deliver something special.

With 20 or so laps remaining, he found himself fighting for second place with Kamui Kobayashi amid the chaos of more than 70 pit stops and half-a-dozen safety car appearances.

With 20 or so laps remaining, he found himself fighting for second place with Kamui Kobayashi amid the chaos of more than 70 pit stops and half-a-dozen safety car appearances.

Massa's engineer could be heard over the radio urging him to get the Sauber driver "out of the way" so he could

then chase down race leader Sebastian Vettel.

But on Lap 51 of 70, Massa and Kobayashi had a minor coming together - and a charging Michael Schumacher overtook them both in his Mercedes, looking like the Schumi of old.

It quickly went from bad to worse for Massa. Three laps later, he lost control of his Ferrari and brushed the wall - requiring him to stop for a new nose, and pushing him down the order.

In the end, Massa just managed to snatch sixth place from Kobayashi in a drag-race photo finish to the checkered flag. The gap between the two drivers: 0.045 seconds.

"I can't draw much satisfaction from this sixth place, given the potential we had here," Massa said. "My chances of finishing on the podium and also of fighting for the win - given how things went - just evaporated."

He said the fateful moment occurred as he tried to pass the Force India of Narain Karthikeyan.

"He was going very slowly on the dry line," Massa explained. "Then, as I was passing him on the wet, he accelerated and I lost control of the car, ending up in the wall."

So Ferrari picked up a total eight points on Sunday - far short of Alonso's stated hope on the previous day of a double podium finish for the Italian team.

With seven races gone in the 19-stop championship, Ferrari sits in third place with 101 points, behind Red Bull (255) and McLaren (186). In the drivers' standings, Alonso is in fifth place, 92 points behind leader Vettel. Massa is sixth, a further 37 points adrift.

You have to wonder whether the point has been reached where Ferrari can no longer be expected to play a role in either championship - an unfamiliar position for the most storied team in Formula One.

Next stop is the European Grand Prix, in Valencia, Spain, in two weeks.

"Regret is the feeling affecting all of us," Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said. "Today we had the potential to fight for the win, but everything that could go wrong did go wrong."

Pat Fry, the team's technical chief, added: "You could say that was a pretty chaotic race, from which we did not come away with what was within our capabilities.

"Events definitely did not do us any favours, starting with the weather." Alonso, for his part, said he hasn't lost hope.

"I think that in Valencia we can do well, because it is another circuit which should suit our car well, as was also the case here," he said.

"The championship is not finished yet, but we must now ope for errors from others to ave some hope."

Despite the extreme weathr - or rather, because of it Sunday's eventful race on le Notre Dame lived up to its tradition of raising the bar for F1 drama.

As Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug put it: "This wasn't just a Grand Prix - it was like an action movie."

For Ferrari, though, the script failed to provide the ending it needed.

Source: Montreal Gazette
Source(image): AFP

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