Massa: Qualifying still matters

Friday 03-May-2013 13:31

Felipe Massa insists qualifying has not lost its value even though there is more passing during grands prix than in recent years.

To date this season only one grand prix has been won by the pole sitter which was Sebastian Vettel's triumph at the Malaysian GP. Added to that just one other was even won by a driver starting from the front row, again Vettel, and this time in China.

The other two winners, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, started seventh and third in the Australian and Chinese GPs respectively.

This change to the norm is down to not only DRS, which gives drivers better straight-line speed, but also the Pirelli tyres, which suffer from high degradation and a notable time difference between the compounds.

Asked by Autosport whether that meant qualifying didn't count like it used to, Massa said: "It is always better to be in front.

"This is something we always need to work for - although we cannot make the car worse for what we have in the race because we need to be the quickest car in qualifying.

"We know that the most important thing is the race. But if you start the race tenth then for sure it is quite hard to fight for the victory.

"If you start the race in the top five, the top three, everything is still possible."

And although Mark Webber agrees that it is still better to start at the front, he reckons it's not as important as in yesteryear.

"Qualifying has become less and less important over the years," said the Red Bull driver. "Back in the day it was everything really - it was 75-80% of where you come around on the first lap.

"Now it is less of a factor, but it is still important in terms of traffic. You don't want to be sitting in too much traffic with the tyres - they don't like being in disturbed air and they wear a lot more.

"That shortens the first stint quite a lot, which will load up the stints after that.

"There are still some chess games to play on Saturday to make sure you are in a good position."

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