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.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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