Felipe Massa was quick to vent his frustration with Carlos Sainz Jr. after claiming to have been deliberately blocked during the final stage of Formula 1 qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday, prompting the Williams driver to see the stewards about the incident.
A slightly bizarre situation seems to have emerged between the two, with Massa alleging that Sainz admitted to blocking him in ‘revenge’ for Massa supposedly impeding him in practice. Sainz denied the allegation or admitting to it, but Massa remained adamant.
“I was happy with qualifying until Q3 when I lost a lap because a driver disturb you by purpose, then it’s really disappointing,” Massa said.
“I think if you make a mistake it’s something, but it’s not a mistake it’s by purpose. So I’m very disappointed.
“I also spoke to him. Then it was raining a little bit and I didn’t really put the lap time together, front-locking here and there and unfortunately I don’t start where I am supposed to.”
“Asked what he spoke to Sainz about, Massa said he had intentionally allowed the Renault driver ahead of him, as he was on a hot lap, then found himself blocked by Sainz’s relative lack of pace.
“I was much more in front of him when I left the garage and I spoke to my engineer and asked if he was on a lap which he was. After corner five I let him go but I was a lot more in front than him and he was completely in front of me and very close,” Massa explained.
“For sure I lost a lot of time, you can see that in the lap time. That’s what happened.”
In Q2 Massa finished P7, having risen briefly to P4 with a lap time of 1:09.789. However, he finished Q3 in 10th place, behind Sainz, with a 1:09.841, half a tenth slower than his Q2 time despite most lap times falling between the two sessions.
He claimed that Sainz admitted to deliberately blocking him, after allegedly feeling Massa blocked him during the earlier sessions.
“I said you disturb me by purpose? And he said ‘yeah I did because you disturb me all weekend’,” Massa said.
“I said ‘oh yeah, because I disturb you for maybe one lap in the long run yesterday?’ To be honest I will never do this on purpose, so really it is too much.
“I just spoke to him now and I hope the stewards follow the right direction.”
Sainz, however, refutes both that he blocked Massa and that he would admit to it. Asked if he did either, he said” “No. Not at all. I think it’s a very strong accusation to say I did something on purpose.
“What I am sure of is that he could have got out of the way before in Turn 4 and I had to do Turn 4 behind him and I was actually impeded by him for 0.2-0.3s in my first lap in Q3, and then he started blaming and talking about yesterday.
“It’s something I don’t really understand at the moment. He was talking about yesterday and today but I wasn’t really listening because it wasn’t really worth it.
While it seems the drivers may simply have not understood each other, discussing the issue immediately after Q3, Sainz denied that he would block someone, saying he would not risk it in a qualifying session.
“Of course not. I would not do that,” Sainz said.
“Yesterday we had some issues on-track for sure but today in qualifying I would not risk to penalise someone.”
Massa is reported to have taken the issue to the stewards, who have yet to announce whether there is an investigation underway.