sport

Massa penalty promotes Alonso

Ferrari have made a strategy call ahead of Sunday's United States Grand Prix in a desperate bid to aid Fernando Alonso's F1 world title hopes.

The Italian team has decided to break the seal on the gearbox of Felipe Massa, thus incurring a five-place grid penalty, resulting in him dropping from sixth to 11th on the Circuit of The Americas grid.

That, in turn, aids Alonso as he is promoted from eighth to seventh, allowing the Spaniard to be on the clean side of the grid, and thus potentially make an improved start.

Massa remarked on Saturday that in being on the dirty side of the new Circuit of The Americas track would be akin to starting in the wet, given the combination of the asphalt and tyres.

A Ferrari spokesman has praised Massa for aiding Ferrari's cause, adding the move was made because "the interests of the team come before anything else".

Ferrari's decision has a knock-on effect for Nico Hulkenberg in his Force India, Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Williams' Bruno Senna who were due to start seventh, ninth and 11th respectively - on the clean side - but now line up sixth, eighth and 10th, and on the dirty side.

Like Alonso, Williams' Pastor Maldonado is the only other beneficiary in moving on to the clean side as he goes from 10th to ninth.

With Alonso trailing polesitter Sebastian Vettel by 10 points, he has to finish within 15 points of the German to ensure the title race goes down to the wire in Brazil next Sunday.