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.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.