DANIEL RIC­CIA­RDO

Motor Sport News - - Italian Gp Report -

A fifth placed fin­ish was a good re­sult for the Red Bull driver given the dis­ad­van­tage of the en­gine-mas­queradin­gas-a-wrist watch Re­nault en­gine. The Aus­tralian one again showed his rac­ing chops to de­liver that as well – re­mind­ing ev­ery­one again that de­spite Max Ver­stap­pen’s im­pact in For­mula One, Ric­cia­rdo is still top dog when it comes to the peck­ing or­der at Red Bull.

Felipe Massa sim­ply sat and said: “I’m more ner­vous right now, than I’ve ever been be­fore the start of a race”.

A rue­ful half-grin, a voice catch­ing with the emo­tion of the mo­ment, and then the quiet, clear an­nounce­ment that, yes, “af­ter 27 years of my rac­ing ca­reer since I started kart­ing, this will be my last sea­son in F1.”

Massa’s re­tire­ment comes as lit­tle sur­prise: Wil­liams have been ac­tively scout­ing the mar­ket for a re­place­ment for at least one of their driv­ers since the start of this year. Massa’s con­tract was up and, with the likes of bil­lion­aire-backed Lance Stroll on the fringes of the sport, or a Telmex-gilded Ser­gio Perez tout­ing him­self around – not to men­tion the brief prospect of Jen­son ‘should I stay or should I go’ But­ton mak­ing a sen­ti­men­tal re­turn to his first F1 home – Wil­liams have not been short of at­trac­tive al­ter­na­tive op­tions.

That’s not to say Massa won’t be missed, as he has been close to the heart of the For­mula 1 nar­ra­tive for much of the past decade.

We’ll never for­get that dark day, July 25 2009 – Hun­gar­ian GP qual­i­fy­ing – when in the same in­stant he suf­fered both the most ghastly mis­for­tune (hit by a sus­pen­sion com­po­nent bounc­ing along the track) and con­jured the most mirac­u­lous es­cape.

I never thought he’d come back from that bru­tal head in­jury and ti­ta­nium skull re­pair; how wrong I was. But his win­ning days were over and there was still ig­nominy to en­dure: Hock­en­heim 2010 and “Fer­nando is faster than you” mark­ing a ca­reer nadir.

In the round though, 11 wins and a unique sta­tus as ‘2008 world cham­pion for five sec­onds’ seem about the right re­turn for a top-flight driver who was never quite an ace, de­spite be­ing ca­pa­ble of bril­liance.

Im­mac­u­late per­for­mances at, say, Turkey’s Is­tan­bul cir­cuit, where he was unbeatable from 2006-2008, or his two classy Brazil­ian GP wins at In­ter­la­gos, in 2006 and ’08, proved his tal­ent and his ap­pli­ca­tion.

It was the sec­ond of those that gave the defin­ing Massa mo­ment: not the race win it­self (his sixth of the sea­son); rather his im­mense dig­nity in de­feat af­ter hav­ing the world ti­tle crown ripped from the sin­gle hand he had placed upon it. Sport is rarely so stark, so cruel, but did he buckle, did he bitch? Not for one sec­ond. Still quick enough to stick a Wil­liams on pole in 2014 (Aus­tria), Massa has al­ways re­mained the ‘sun­shine guy’ I re­mem­ber from a visit to his Swiss apart­ment back in 2002.

Shun­ning the stairs down to the block main door, he hopped, in­stead, on an ad­ja­cent slide, in­tended for kids. “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” he went, as he sped away, loving ev­ery sec­ond.

That twin­kle in the eye still re­mains, undimmed, and it was with very gen­uine af­fec­tion that the F1 press corps clapped Massa to the echo as he wrapped up his farewell an­nounce­ment last Thurs­day.

So long, Felipe. Keep rid­ing the slide.

A safety car mix-up al­lowed An­to­nio Giov­inazzi to win the open­ing GP2 race at Monza last week­end, de­spite start­ing at the back of the grid. Af­ter Ser­gio Cana­masas rolled fol­low­ing con­tact with Arthur Pic, the safety car was de­ployed but picked up Pierre Gasly as the leader rather than a group of cars that were yet to stop. This cat­a­pulted Giov­inazzi up the or­der and he then passed Raf­faele Mar­ciello on the fi­nal lap to take the win. Nor­man Nato con­trolled race two to win from Gasly and Mar­ciello... Scott Dixon won the Indycar race at Watkins Glen last week­end, but the main in­ci­dent of the race was a crash be­tween Will Power and Char­lie Kim­ball. Ti­tle con­tender Power suf­fered con­cus­sion-like symp­toms as a re­sult of the col­li­sion and de­scribed Kim­ball as a “pain in the ass”. Points leader Si­mon Pa­ge­naud ex­tended his ad­van­tage at the top of the stand­ings as a re­sult… Martin Truex Jr won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dar­ling­ton Race­way last week­end from Kevin Har­vick, who led for the ma­jor­ity of the con­test…

Dixon took Indycar spoils

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