Ferrari breaks gearbox seal to get cars on clean side of grid

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F1 Grand Prix, GP United States, Circuit of The Americasus

Scuderia Ferrari have broken the seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa's F2012 in order to pick up a 5-place grid penalty for the Brazilian. Although this moves Massa to 11th, it also means Alonso would move up to 7th and both Ferrari's could start from the clean side of the grid.

From the very beginning of the race weekend, many drivers have voiced their concerns about starting on the dirty side of the grid, lamenting a considerable lack of grip. The feelings were strengthened by Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa after doing a practice start at the end of the final free practice on Saturday morning.

The result of qualifying was such that, when considering Grosjean's grid penalty, both Ferrari's would have to start form the dirty side of the grid, which according to Red Bull's simulations could be worth a loss of 3 grid rows before the entry into turn 1.

In an attempt to prevent any such thing to happen to either Ferrari, the Italian team have now decided to break a seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa's gearbox, triggering a 5-place grid penalty for the Brazilian.

A spokesperson said: "We’ve decided to accept the penalty normally associated with the gearbox change on Felipe’s car which means that he’ll get a 5 place grid penalty. The reason for this was for strategy considerations, with the objective of maximizing Alonso’s start potential given that he’s still in with a chance to win the Drivers’ championship. We saw yesterday that starting from the dirty side of the track would have been penalizing: there was a significant risk of finding ourselves too far behind the leaders at the end of the first lap. It was a decision agreed by both drivers. We’ve always maintained that the interests of the team come before that of the individual drivers and this has always been our very transparent policy. Felipe has fully comprehended the reasons behind this decision and so he’s once again proven his total dedication to the team - something for which we would publicly like to express our gratitude."