Difficult Friday for Felipe Massa after crash

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Felipe Massa has experienced another difficult start to a grand prix weekend after crashing during the second free practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone today.

The Brazilian driver was the last classified driver to post a time during FP1, with most opting to remain in the pits due to the adverse weather conditions. Massa finished P11 with a time of 2:06.534, which gave the Ferrari team very little data to work with and subsequently placed extra importance on the second session in the afternoon.

However, Massa’s FP2 run came to an abrupt end after completing just seven laps on the drying track. After braking into Stowe, Massa got back on the power a little too quickly through the sweeping right-hander, resulting in a very long slide. Unable to correct the mistake, the Ferrari helplessly crashed into the wall near pit entry, ruining the front end of the car and ending Massa’s session there and then.

Speaking about the incident, Massa made no secret of his disappointment after a fourth crash in three races.

“I am very disappointed about what happened today as the accident cost me valuable time, especially in terms of getting an understanding of the tire behaviour here at Silverstone,” Massa explained in a team statement.

“At the exit of the corner, I found myself on a piece of track that was still very damp and I lost control of the car. Luckily, the car only suffered slight front end damage and tomorrow we will comfortably be able to pick up where we left off with the work.”

Massa has failed to finish on the podium at the British Grand Prix in his ten previous attempts, and this setback could put paid to any chances he has this weekend.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”