Barrichello comforts Massa following Ferrari exit

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Former Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello has comforted Felipe Massa following the Brazilian’s exit from Ferrari, confirming that there is a future beyond the Italian team.

Massa confirmed on Monday that he will be leaving the team at the end of the season, set to be replaced by Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen. Having also left the team at the end of 2005, Barrichello is well-positioned to advise his compatriot and friend regarding his next move, and he has assured Massa that there is life after Ferrari.

“I feel sorry for Felipe, but I know there is life after Ferrari,” Barrichello said in an interview with TotalRace. “I am a proof of that because of Brawn and everything that happened. Everything was really good, and there are some things that are even better after Ferrari.”

After leaving Ferrari in 2005, Barrichello moved to Honda which became Brawn in 2009. That year, the Brazilian driver won two races and finished an incredible third in the drivers’ championship in one of the greatest fairytales the sport has known as Brawn romped to both titles. Although Barrichello did acknowledge that Ferrari is the ultimate drive in F1, he also spoke about the benefits of leaving Maranello.

“Driving for Ferrari is the most sensational thing ever, but after Ferrari there is a release, with a little less pressure and careful interviews,” he said. There is a moment of pain, but there is life after it.”

Massa is thought to be in the running for Raikkonen’s seat at Lotus, but he faces stiff opposition in the form of Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg who it transpires was close to being the Brazilian’s replacement.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.