Mercedes untouchable, Massa looks to fight Ferrari

Sat Mar 14, 2015 7:30am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Felipe Massa will start Sunday's Australian Grand Prix right behind the Mercedes cars but the Brazilian had few illusions about his Williams team's chances of winning the season opener.

Third fastest in qualifying, Massa's best lap was nearly one-and-a-half seconds shy of Formula One champion pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and nearly a second adrift of the Briton's team mate Nico Rosberg.

Given that Williams are powered by Mercedes, Massa could only shrug and laugh when asked the awkward question as to where the difference lay between the teams' performance.

"If it's the same engine, the difference should be in the car," he said, raising chuckles at the post-qualifying media conference.

"I hope we have the same engine. I believe we have the same engine. So it's the car!"

Massa's team mate Valtteri Bottas qualified sixth behind the Ferraris, but the Finn suffered back pain during the sessions and was taken to hospital for checks.

Though Bottas may be uncertain for the race, Williams performance boss Rob Smedley saw promise in their showing after an encouraging winter testing.

"Reasonably happy with that. To get the first one out of the way and be in a reasonable position," he said.   Continued...

Williams Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil (R) congratulates Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain on his pole position after the qualifying session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 14, 2015.   REUTERS/Brandon Malone