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GP Week : Issue 155
Pressure on Felipe Massa to rediscover his past form appeared to pay dividends in Monaco at the weekend, as the Brazilian produced undoubtedly his best performance of the season. He was disappointed to qualify seventh on Saturday, having gone fastest in Q2, and was again disappointed during the race to finish sixth. After making up two places off the start, Massa pressed team-mate Alonso hard for fourth throughout the first stint but lost touch with him just before the pitstops. Like Hamilton who he was fighting with thereafter, he then lost a place to Vettel who had run longer into his first stint, placing Massa sixth where he finished. Speaking after the race, he said he couldn’t be happy with sixth place, but hoped the result would herald a turning point in his season. “A driver always wants to do the maximum so I can’t be delighted with sixth place, however these are important points,” he said. “I really hope my championship has turned around and that, from now on, I can always be in the fight for the top places, as was the case here in Monaco. “It was a good race. I felt comfortable with the car right from the start of Thursday’s free practice. I had the right feeling and it was much easier to drive than at the previous races,” he added. “Maybe it depends on the nature of the track or the set-up and we definitely need to analyse everything carefully to see what we can learn from this weekend. All things considered, I could have brought home a better result, but I am happy nevertheless.” Traffic and strategy combined to rob Jean-Eric Vergne of his best F1 finish in Monaco yesterday, after driving a superb race to climb from 16th on the grid to seventh place with just nine laps remaining. After losing one place off the line, the Frenchman pitted early to get out of slower traffic and soon shot up through the field as those ahead made their first pit-stops. He then overtook the ailing Schumacher into Turn 1 on lap 62, but his early pit-stop came back to bite him when the drizzle arrived just five laps later. With no grip left in his tyres, Vergne was forced to pit for intermediates, but the rain never intensified enough and he took the chequered flag in a disappointing 12th place. He thinks he could have been comfortably in the points had it not been for the traffic early in the race: “After the start, lots of cars in front of me cut the corner at the first turn and I found myself behind the Marussia and I was losing a lot of time,” Vergne said on Sunday evening. “I was on a one stop strategy and to try and get me out of the traffic, we made an early stop. “From then on, I ran at a very good pace, which I am happy about and I was as high as seventh. I was lapping quickly and consistently. But with around 14 laps to the end, my tyres were completely gone and I had to come in for the Intermediates, but the rain was not strong enough. “It’s a real shame about the laps I lost in traffic at the start because without that I could have been comfortably in the points today.” MASSA RESPONDS TO PRESSURE WITH SIXTH VERGNE DROPS FROM SEVENTH AFTER LATE-RACE 'INTER' CALL 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> MONACO