Mixed feelings for Massa a year on from accident

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The Independent Online

Felipe Massa will start today's Germany Grand Prix in third place. A year ago, his life was initially thought to hang in the balance after he was struck in the face by a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during qualifying for the Hungarian GP.

"That was a difficult time for me," he said, trying to smile a little wider at Ferrari's upsurge in performance which won him his first top-three appearance since Bahrain and yet annoyed with himself for not getting the absolute best from his car.

"Back then something was saying that I still needed to be here, still working and doing my job. I went off on the first run, so I was a little bit cautious on the second. But it's a good performance from us, and I'm happy to be here."

Mark Webber was within hundredths of a second of his Red Bull team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, in Q2, but a mistake early in his second run in Q3 prevented him from improving further and dropped him behind Massa. "I made a mistake into Turn One," the British GP winner said. "I turned in a little bit late and cut the kerb so I had to abandon the lap. It wasn't the best day for me."

It was a surprise to see Jenson Button leap ahead of his McLaren team-mate, Lewis Hamilton, after the final Q3 runs. "It took a bit of time for us to get used to the balance of the car this weekend," he explained. "I was pretty happy with my final lap, so I don't know where the extra seven tenths [to pole] is. And that's the slightly worrying thing: it was a good lap, and I don't really think there was anything else I could've got out of the car.

"But we've definitely made a step forward with the blown diffuser – it's still not quite enough in qualifying spec, but, hopefully, we'll see some more performance [today]. From fifth on the grid, we can still have a good race, and this is a fun place to go racing. The first lap is usually pretty hectic, so I'll be hoping to pass some cars early on. I definitely think we can get a great result." Hamilton was a little detuned and admitted that his qualifying pace wasn't good. "There was definitely a bit more time to be gained somewhere. I did the best job I could – it's just that the two teams in front did a slightly better job.

"We're the fastest down the straights, but we don't have quite enough downforce at the moment. We'll keep on pushing, but we know we have more work to do. Still, I think there'll be an improvement in our performance relative to the others, because our race pace is generally better than our qualifying pace. Hopefully, the weather will be good, too, so we can push the guys in front and try and make up some places."