Joy for Massa, gloom for Alonso in Japan

SUZUKA, Japan Sun Oct 7, 2012 7:36pm IST

Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil talks to media following the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit October 7, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa of Brazil talks to media following the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit October 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Felipe Massa boosted his chances of staying at Ferrari with a first podium appearance in two years on Sunday while championship leader Fernando Alonso's title hopes suffered a major setback.

Brazilian Massa finished second in Japan, his best result since July 2010 when he was runner-up in Germany and his first top-three finish since he was third in South Korea in October 2010.

Team mate Alonso, who had started with a 29-point advantage over Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel with six races remaining, spun out at the start on Sunday after being tagged by Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus and suffering a cut tyre.

Vettel won and slashed the lead to four points.

Asked whether his strong performance would help to secure his seat at Ferrari in 2013, Massa told reporters: "I think so.

"Hopefully this is just the beginning of many podiums now."

Alonso again cursed his luck, with former Ferrari champion Raikkonen again playing the role of spoiler.

The Finn had spun his Lotus off in the final seconds of Saturday qualifying, preventing Alonso from posting a lap quicker than his sixth-placed effort, and then tagged the Ferrari at the first corner of the race to send it spinning into the gravel.

"Today we were very unlucky," said the Spaniard.

"To finish a race like this, at the very first corner, is really a shame. Contact from Raikkonen caused a puncture to the left rear tyre and my race ended there."

Alonso called on Ferrari to work hard on the development of the car but said he was not worried, knowing that the misfortune he had suffered could equally apply to others.

"Now we start a sort of mini-championship, run over five grands prix," said the Spaniard. "The wheel turns and that is what races are all about."

Team principal Stefano Domenicali agreed that it had been a tough weekend.

"I don't believe in luck but given what's happened these last couple of days, I'm considering changing my mind," he said. "The gods that didn't shine on us yesterday definitely took a shot at us again today."

Congratulating Massa on a "splendid race" and "truly impeccable performance", he would not be drawn on the Brazilian's future.

"One step at a time," said Domenicali. "Now we are enjoying this lovely podium together."

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

Cricketer Dies

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Brazilian Cup

Brazilian Cup

Atletico Mineiro win Brazilian Cup.  Full Article 

Golf Update

Golf Update

Steady as she goes for jet-lagged McIlroy in Sydney.  Full Article 

Indian Soccer

Indian Soccer

India's two leagues to merge within five years - FA official.  Full Article 

Proud Wenger

Proud Wenger

Wenger proud of Arsenal but says they can do better   Full Article | Related Story 

Mandzukic Hat-trick

Mandzukic Hat-trick

Mandzukic shifts into top gear with European treble  Full Article 

Sun's Doping Ban

Sun's Doping Ban

WADA may appeal Sun's three-month doping ban  Full Article 

Unimpressive Liverpool

Unimpressive Liverpool

Liverpool stumble again as Terziev earns Ludogorets late draw  Full Article 

Real Beat Basel

Real Beat Basel

Ronaldo strike sinks gallant Basel  Full Article 

England vs Lanka

England vs Lanka

England fall short in Sri Lanka despite Moheen century  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage