Alonso says thanks to Massa
Fernando Alonso has thanked Felipe Massa for playing the fall guy in the United States Grand Prix that helped keep his Formula One world title hopes alive.
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Ferrari contentiously decided to break the seal on Massa's gearbox ahead of the race at Circuit of The Americas, so incurring a five-place grid penalty.
That dropped Massa from sixth to 11th, crucially elevating Alonso from eighth to seventh and on to the clean side of the grid.
Prior to the race virtually every driver had expressed concern at starting on the dirty side given the lack of grip on the new track, with Massa claiming it would be like getting away "in the wet".
It was a decision Massa has claimed he was far from happy with at first, but for the good of the team and Alonso's championship chances - and not for the first time - he took the hit.
To their credit, Ferrari did not fudge the issue, coming clean by stating the decision was taken because "the interests of the team come before anything else".
It proved crucial as Alonso was up to fourth by the end of turn one, eventually finishing third behind race winner Lewis Hamilton and championship rival Sebastian Vettel.
It means the title fight goes down to the wire in Brazil on Sunday, with Vettel 13 points clear, and knowing all he has to do is finish in the top three to become a three-time world champion.
Despite that, Alonso said: "It was a decision made by the team.
"We were going to start sixth and eighth, and were worried we would arrive ninth and 10th into the first corner.
"But I'm proud of this decision, and I'm proud of the team for saying the truth behind it."
As for Massa, who produced arguably his best performance of the year to finish fourth, Alonso said: "Felipe was fantastic all weekend.
"He was very fast in final practice, and he was faster than me in Q1, Q2 and Q3.
"We need this form from Felipe in Sao Paulo. Red Bull will be strong and we need our team to be united."
Alonso heads to Sao Paulo with hope, even though he was found wanting for pace in Austin as he trailed the leading duo by 40 seconds.
"Losing three points to Sebastian was not in our thoughts last night or on Friday night, so we're very happy to have a very good Sunday," added Alonso.
"It's great to be going to Brazil still in with a chance of winning this championship."
Vettel led for the first 41 laps, but was unable to resist Hamilton who made his move on lap 42 to claim the 21st win of his career.
Vettel could not mark his 100th race with his third drivers' title, but he at least played his part in helping Red Bull win their third consecutive constructors' crown.
"A fantastic job by the team to seal the constructors' championship," said Vettel.
"I'm very happy with that and the guys can be proud of themselves.
"Now we go to Brazil where we have been quick the last couple of years, and I have extended my lead in the championship, so we are in a good position."