Frentzen Expects Massa to Return at Suzuka

Brazilian Felipe Massa can expect to see out the season with Sauber in Japan next month after being replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen for Sunday's U.S. Formula One Grand Prix.

Frentzen Expects Massa to Return at Suzuka

Brazilian Felipe Massa can expect to see out the season with Sauber in Japan next month after being replaced by Heinz-Harald Frentzen for Sunday's U.S. Formula One Grand Prix.

"At the moment I am only here for Indianapolis," Frentzen said before his debut with the Swiss-based team in Friday's first free practice at 'The Brickyard'.

"It all depends on the race really here ... of course I would like to race at Suzuka, but Felipe is a regular driver here (at Sauber) and I think that he's going to race at Suzuka."

Massa, who has had a fast but erratic first season, was sidelined by the team after stewards at the previous Italian Grand Prix imposed an unprecedented starting penalty on him for the U.S. Grand Prix.

Had the Brazilian competed at Indianapolis, he would have had to start 10 places below his qualifying slot as a punishment for causing an avoidable accident with Jaguar's Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa at Monza.

Sauber sidestepped the problem by imposing an even stricter penalty, effectively a one-race ban, by drafting in the experienced Frentzen for the penultimate round even though he fits uncomfortably in the car.

The German is due to replace Massa at the team in 2003 but is currently a free agent after leaving struggling Arrows last month.

The ruling International Automobile Federation (FIA) have said the sanction was against the driver and not the team and Massa is clear to race without penalty for the season's finale in Japan.

Drivers Divided

Sauber's response, as well as the nature of a penalty introduced only this season with Massa being the first to receive it, divided drivers.

"I think it's kind of tough," said fellow-Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who admitted he had not seen the accident.

"If there is a penalty, it should be on the day. I mean, just to postpone the penalty is a bit tough," added the Ferrari driver.

Former World Champion Niki Lauda, now team principal of Jaguar, was puzzled about a case that has separated driver and team when they normally stand together.

"It's quite a funny rule basically," said the Austrian. "Because all they did was change the driver, so Frentzen is back in the car. No penalty to the team. I think in the future this needs to be sorted out one way or the other."

McLaren's David Coulthard said he was against financial sanctions ("that goes against my religion"), but there needed to be strong action.

"What would happen otherwise is we wait until there's a big accident, someone gets hurt and then there's an action. So I think it's good to sort of pre-empt.

"But the 10 grid slot thing is a bit awkward, isn't it? Why 10? Why not two? Why not put you straight to the back of the grid?," said the Scot, who also renewed his call for permanent race stewards.

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