Massa gets penalty, Alonso moves to clean side
18 November 2012 – Ferrari has broken the official FIA seal on Felipe Massa's gearbox ahead of the United States Grand Prix, meaning the Brazilian driver will be given a five-place grid penalty for this afternoon's race. As a result of the Maranello-based outfit's actions, team-mate Fernando Alonso now moves on to the 'clean side' for the start.
As race day preparations got underway in Austin, rumours over the potential change gathered momentum in the paddock. Alonso posted the ninth fastest time in Saturday afternoon's qualifying session, but a grid drop for Romain Grosjean promoted him to eighth and on to the dirtier side of the grid. With engineers up and down the pit lane expecting severely problematic starts from the 'even number' slots, the move was assessed by Ferrari.
At around 11am local time the initial reports were confirmed, meaning Massa drops down the order to 11th place, with Alonso now departing from seventh on the grid. It is currently unknown as to whether or not Massa's gearbox will now be replaced.