Massa sticks up for rookie Stroll

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Felipe Massa believes Williams team mate should be awarded mitigating circumstances following the rookie's testing mishaps last week in Barcelona.

Stroll damaged his Williams on Day 3 last week which resulted in the team remaining confined to the garage on the last day of running.

While the forced lack of running directly hit Massa's own time behind the wheel of the new FW40, the Brazilian defended the young Canadian's troubled F1 start.

"It would be worse if we were not running because of problems with our car," Massa told Globo.

He said Stroll crashing due to inexperience is "absolutely part of the game".

"Everyone should calm down, as this was his first experience of the car. The boy is only 18 years old. I've also been 18, I've been through it," he said.

Massa's initial impression of the 2017 pecking order so far put Williams right behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

 "At the moment, the impression I have is that after Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull we are there, although Renault has grown a lot," he said.

Massa said Ferrari's closeness to Mercedes is a "positive surprise", and agreed with those who think Red Bull was clearly the third force last week.

"I did not see anything very different in their car, as we had imagined, but it's early of course. Let's see what they bring now," he added.

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