Williams driver Felipe Massa suffered exactly the start he didn’t want to his Belgian Grand Prix race weekend.
The Brazilian crashed early in first free practice at Spa-Francorchamps, and took no further part in the day’s track activity.
“I was on the first lap just trying to understand the track,” Massa explained. “When I touched the inside kerb in corner seven the rear of the just came round.
“I lost the rear and I couldn’t correct it. It was a very small run-off area, so I couldn’t avoid a crash. It was also quite a big crash. The chassis was damaged. For sure it was a mistake.”
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He was adamant that the accident was unrelated to the vertigo that sidelined him at the Hungarian Grand Prix before the summer shutdown. Massa had earlier met with FIA medical delegates to ensure that he was race fit.
“I didn’t feel dizzy any more since the week after Hungary,” he insisted. “For sure I didn’t crash because of that.”
However, the damage was so extensive that Williams was forced to replace the survival cell at the heart of the FW40 chassis. The change requires the rebuilt car be re-scruinteered by FIA delegates overnight. As a result, Massa wasn’t able to take part in afternoon practice.
“The FIA didn’t allow us to go out because they need to check the car, and they couldn’t do it,” Massa confirmed.
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He completed just three laps in total on Friday before the accident, and didn’t get to set a representative lap time.
“It was a really a shame because we lost two sessions, so it was a really a day to forget for the team,” he sighed.
“It’s a track where you need to put a lot of confidence in the corners. The high speed and everything, understanding the car, and learning the new car with more downforce on this track.
“For sure it’s not positive what happened today.
“I really hope tomorrow will be a different day,” he continued. “I have to drive as much as I can and try to learn this car on this track – the set-up and everything – just to be as prepared as possible for qualifying.”
Massa’s team mate, Canadian rookie Lance Stroll, was only 17th fastest in afternoon practice before an early end due to rain. Massa admitted that “the car didn’t show very competitively today.”
“This is a shame, as we cannot even learn so much from what you see in the other car,” he said. “It’s just a day to forget. We need to build up everything from tomorrow.”
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