United States GP: Massa gearbox trick gives Alonso better start position
By Berthold Bouman
Felipe Massa gets a five-place grid penalty for exchanging the gearbox of his Ferrari, which means his team mate Fernando Alonso will now start from seventh place on the grid, but more importantly, he will also start from the clean side of the grid, as all drivers have said it is a major disadvantage to start from the even-numbered or left-hand side of the grid.
Massa will start from 11th spot on the grid now, but this is clearly a new Ferrari trick, never shown before. Ferrari forced this penalty by deliberately breaking one of the seals on the gearbox of Massa’s car which is prohibited according to the Sporting Regulations.
Article 28.6e says, “… a replacement gearbox will also be deemed to have been used if any of the FIA seals are damaged or removed from the original gearbox after it has been used for the first time.” Massa yesterday said about starting on the ‘wrong side’ of the grid, “Starting from the dirty side of the track is definitely not helpful: it’s the first time we’re not happy about gaining a grid position!”