Rear wing issue leaves Massa in the wall in Shanghai

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Williams’ hopes of cutting the gap to Ferrari at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix were dented during practice on Friday as Felipe Massa ended his day in the wall following an issue with the rear wing on his car.

The Brazilian driver suffered ‘rear wing stall’ on his car when traveling down the back straight at the Shanghai International Circuit in FP2, causing him to lose control at high speed.

Although he avoided a big crash, the impact with the wall was enough to bring Massa’s day to an early end, much to his frustration.

“The first session went to plan, but this afternoon we had a few issues with the rear wing,” Massa said. “Under braking I lost all grip in the rear tires and as a result the car spun which put me out for the rest of the session.

“We lost a lot of time, but the team made the changes to Valtteri [Bottas]’s rear wing so the same wouldn’t happen to him. We need to have a strong day tomorrow to set ourselves up well for the race.”

Williams had been in the fight to be the ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes at the opening race of the year in Australia, but has since lost ground on Ferrari as the Italian marque goes in search of consecutive wins this weekend.

Head of performance engineering Rob Smedley remained upbeat about Williams’ chances in China though, saying that he will reserve judgement on its place in the pecking order until qualifying on Saturday.

“We completed the majority of our plan today, unfortunately we didn’t get all the data we would have liked to due to Felipe’s spin in the second session,” Smedley said. “The spin was caused by a rear wing stall which was easy to rectify so we were confident when sending Valtteri back out.

“The data and driver feedback from the new parts we have installed seem positive, but there is still more work to do to see where we are in comparison to our rivals ahead of qualifying and the race.”

Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3a ET on Saturday.