Felipe Massa signs off from Ferrari in frustration

By Tatiana Ramil

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Felipe Massa cursed race stewards for ruining his Ferrari farewell in front of his home fans at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Sao Paulo driver had gone from ninth on the starting grid to fourth, with every chance of team mate Fernando Alonso handing him third as a parting gift, when he was given a drive-through penalty for fully crossing a white line at the pit lane entry.

"Unbelievable, unacceptable," he had shouted over the team radio when told. He shook his fists as he drove through the pitlane and was still incensed after finishing the race in seventh place.

"I'm really disappointed," he told reporters in the Interlagos paddock.

"For sure they (the stewards) didn't do the right thing. If you really need to do that, you need to penalize everybody who passed there, not just me. It�s really unacceptable and I feel sorry because the race could have been completely different."

Massa, whose last win was at Interlagos in 2008 when he missed out on the title to Britain's Lewis Hamilton by a single point, said Alonso had told him before the race that he would help him to the best possible send-off.

"He just came to say wherever you are behind me, I let you by," said the Brazilian, who is moving to Williams after eight years at Ferrari.

Alonso, who had already made sure of second place overall in the championship, finished the race in third place and paid tribute afterwards to his departing team mate.

"He's been a fantastic team mate and even if we continue to see one another in the paddock, I will miss the relationship we have had. I wish him all the best for the future," said the Spaniard.

Massa is being replaced at Ferrari by returning 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

The drive-through cost Ferrari the chance of leapfrogging Mercedes for second place overall in the championship but the Italian team still made sure Massa was left in no doubt about their affection for him.

Given a guard of honour by mechanics as he drove out of the garage before the start of the race, they donned T-shirts afterwards thanking him for his contribution.

"I will miss the human part, you can see my relationship with Ferrari, how many friends I have here," said Massa. "It was a very emotional day, not only for me but for everybody that is working together with me and this is what I will miss more."

(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Alison Wildey)

Next Race
Catalunya, Spain
May 11, 2014
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