A month ago things had been looking good for the Brazilian. He had challenged for the victory in China, which coming off the back of an awful 2010, had inspired hope the Ferrari driver was back to his best. Sadly it looked more like the 2010-spec Massa yesterday in Barcelona as he toiled down in the low pointing scoring positions before a gearbox problem forced him to retire. Massa blamed his slow pace on the Pirelli hard tyre compound: "The hard tyres we had today really did not work for us," he said. "When we went from the option to the prime we began to suffer more and more; there was no grip and I was struggling to keep the car on track."
The Swiss team enjoyed their best result of the season yesterday as Sergio Perez, finished ninth, with teammate Kamui Kobayashi one spot further back. It was the first time both cars finished in the points - they did in Australia as well but were disqualified for a technical infringement. It was also Perez's first world championship points. The Mexican said: "It was a tough race today and a hard fight for points. I'm really happy we made it. My first points in Formula One are obviously something special for me, and it is good for the team that Kamui also scored."
The seven-time world champion bounced back from his poor display in Istanbul two weeks ago with an excellent drive to sixth place. The German out-performed his Mercedes GP teammate Nico Rosberg for the first time in 2011 to achieve his best result of the season, albeit a lap behind race winner Sebastian Vettel. "We managed to make the most out of our possibilities today which is good news, especially for our guys who I am happy for," he said. "I had a good start; going right through the middle was tight but fortunately it worked out."
Considering he had started last, eighth place was not a bad result for the Renault driver, and the German made for a content figure in the paddock, post-race. A fire in practice had damaged his car too badly to compete in qualifying, but Heidfeld bounced back with a strong run. "I had a good start then I had to fight through the field with many overtaking moves so it was good fun for me behind the wheel," he said. "It's always encouraging to put in a strong performance, and I'm more happy and relaxed heading to Monaco."
The British team remain pointless after Pastor Maldanodo finished 15th and Rubens Barrichello was a distant 17th at the Circuit de Cataluyna. But despite another poor day at the office, Sam Michael, the team's technical director, found grounds for optimism. "Although our end positions don't look like it, we are improving but it is extremely tight in the midfield," he said. "If you don't get it right, you end up 15th instead of 10th. The main thing for us now is to keep focused."
Cesc Fabregas finally opted for Barcelona over London yesterday as he decided to skip Arsenal's game with Fulham at Craven Cottage and enjoy some Formula One hospitality at Circuit de Catalunya. The midfielder was found wandering around the paddock alongside a few other famous faces, including the former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and the Crown Prince of Bahrain, the latter of whom was maintaining a low profile amid increased speculation regarding his country's postponed grand prix.