Ferrari says Massa supports penalty call

Ferrari says Felipe Massa fully backs its decision to deliberately give him a gearbox penalty for the United States Grand Prix in order to boost his team-mate Fernando Alonso's Formula 1 championship hopes.

Massa falls from sixth on the grid to 11th as a result of the move, while Alonso is elevated from eighth to seventh.

A statement from Ferrari expressed the team's gratitude to Massa, and emphasised that the Brazilian was in total agreement.

"It was a decision agreed by both drivers," said the statement. "We've always maintained that the interests of the team come before that of the individual drivers and this has always been our very transparent policy.

"Felipe has fully comprehended the reasons behind this decision and so he's once again proven his total dedication to the team - something for which we would publicly like to express our gratitude."

The statement also underlined that the primary consideration was not elevating Alonso by a position, but to ensure the world title aspirant was on the clean side of the grid.

Drivers fear the 'even' side at Austin will be significantly dirtier and hamper the starts of all those on that side.

"The reason for this [penalty] was for strategy considerations, with the objective of maximising Alonso's start potential given that he's still in with a chance to win the drivers' championship," it said.

"We saw yesterday that starting from the dirty side of the track would have been penalising: there was a significant risk of finding ourselves too far behind the leaders at the end of the first lap."