Massa: Pole in Austria is just the beginning

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After securing his first pole position in over five years today in Austria, Felipe Massa is confident that this could just be the beginning of a new chapter in his career.

The Brazilian has endured some ups and downs over the past five years, coming agonizingly close to winning the 2008 world championship before being sidelined for half of the 2009 season due to a horrific head injury suffered at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

After eight years with Ferrari, he was dropped at the end of last season in favor of Kimi Raikkonen, but since moving to Williams, Massa appears to have been rejuvenated. In qualifying today, that was clear as he bagged his first pole since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.

“I’m so happy with what’s happened today with us and our team,” Massa explained after qualifying today. “It was such a great moment. It was already long time when I had my last pole position, which was, yeah, in Brazil, 2008. So, such an incredible moment.

“For sure we need to concentrate on the race tomorrow, you know, it’s a difficult and important race for us. But I think it’s a great moment.”

After so long away from the front of the field, Massa is hopeful that this will not be a one-off.

“After a long time I couldn’t be in this place and I hope this is just the beginning of maybe some great possibilities to be here again, not just in qualifying but also in the race,” he said. “The race is tomorrow but I’m so happy, very emotional – not just for me but I think it’s a similar feeling what I feel and what Williams feels as well.

“Williams Martini had an incredible career in the past and they are back to the top, they are back to the fight. There is still a lot to do, but the work is going on the right line.”

With Massa’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, starting in second place, the result marks Williams’ first front row lock-out since the 2003 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Can Massa hold on? Find out tomorrow by watching the Austrian Grand Prix live from 7:30am ET on NBCSN and Live Extra.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.