Felipe Massa continued his impressive start to the 2016 Formula 1 season in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix by charging to sixth place for Williams.
Massa battled his way up from P10 on the grid to run fourth in the closing stages with a number of faster cars running close behind.
Massa defended admirably to keep the recovering Lewis Hamilton back until the end of the race, although Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen were able to pass on quicker tires.
All things considered, Massa felt delighted with his display as he once again led Williams’ charge, marking his third straight intra-team victory over stablemate Valtteri Bottas in P10.
“I’m actually so happy with the race, it was really, really a good race for me, even if I didn’t finish on the podium,” Massa told NBCSN after the race.
“I can be really happy, I think I did a fantastic performance. A really good drive. I take care of the tires in more than a good way, in a perfect way, so the experience gives me a lot of good results at the end of the race today.
“I knew the only car that it was possible to keep behind me was Lewis [at the end]. We were fighting a lot, but when I saw that he couldn’t use the DRS anymore because he had a mistake in corner nine, then I knew he was not going to pass me anymore.
“I understood why he was quicker than me, I understood he was using a little bit more tires than me as well. So in the last eight or even 10 laps of the race, I knew that now we can stay here. I’m so happy with the race. Everything worked perfectly on the tires.”
Despite the result, it was clear throughout the race that Williams is no longer the third-fastest team on the grid, trailing behind Mercedes, Ferrari and now Red Bull.
Massa admitted that Red Bull was stronger in races, but said that the team would be working hard to make up the lost ground in the coming races.
“I think now we have three teams quicker than us, three teams in good shape, better than us,” Massa said.
“We can even fight a little bit closer, depending on the track, with the Red Bull in qualifying, but we know in the race they have a much stronger car.
“I would say today I finished in the best position I could, and I’m really, really looking forward that we understand why the other cars are better than us and we try to improve.
“We know it’s not easy but we will keep fighting and keep working.”