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Massa to drop ten places on China grid 29 Sep 2006

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, 29 September 2006

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has been hit by a grid penalty in Shanghai after the team opted to change the engine on his car. It means the Brazilian will drop ten places on his qualifying position for the start of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

“We have to look at the data and the engine itself to understand what happened,” said Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn. “It is a real pity given our performance level is pretty good. The cars seemed to be well balanced and our overall situation seems quite positive.”

The penalty has potential implications for Michael Schumacher’s title hopes, as it means Massa is unlikely to be able to play much of a supporting role to his team mate - assuming Schumacher qualifies at the front end of the grid. It is also a blow to Ferrari’s prospects of reclaiming the constructors’ championship crown.

Massa was the fastest race driver in Friday practice, beating Schumacher by less than a tenth of a second to finish fourth overall behind the third drivers for the Williams (Alexander Wurz), BMW Sauber (Sebastian Vettel) and Honda (Anthony Davidson) teams.