By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
In a special press conference inside the Williams Martini motor-home Felipe Massa emotionally announced that he will retire from Formula One at the end of the season.
“I must start by especially thanking my wife and my father, my whole family, my manager Nicolas and all the people who have supported me throughout my career. Thank you to God for giving me the opportunities I have had in life and, above all, for protecting me. A huge thank you as well to everyone I have worked with over the years. Every team I have been a part of has been a special experience, and not only in Formula One. I have so many great memories over the years and thank everyone in all the teams I have come through to help me get to where I am today. My career has been more than I ever expected and I am proud of what I have achieved. Finally, it is a great honour to finish my career at such an amazing team as Williams Martini Racing. It will be an emotional day when I finally conclude my Formula One career with my 250th Grand Prix start in Abu Dhabi.” said Massa.
Abu Dhabi will mark the 250th and final Grand Prix of one of the longest Formula One careers to date. Massa joined the sport with Sauber in 2002 after winning the FIA Euro Formula 3000 Championship. Massa immediately impressed by scoring points in only his second Grand Prix, and for the second year in a row after “discovering” Kimi Raikkonen the year before, Peter Sauber had a future star on his team.
Ferrari duly noted and for 2003 signed Massa as a test driver. The year off the track proved wonders for Felipe’s career as he became a pupil to then 6 time World Champion Michael Schumacher. With Schumacher as his mentor Massa’s driving style matured.
Massa returned to Sauber for the 2004 and 2006 seasons, regularly finishing in the points for the Swiss squad. For 2006 he was called up to the big leagues to replace compatriot Rubens Barrichello and drive alongside mentor Schumacher for Ferrari.
The early Ferrari year’s included multiple victories per season, including six in 2008 when Massa lost the world championship to Lewis Hamilton by only one point in the final race of the season. For 30 seconds, Felipe was the 2008 WDC. The later Ferrari year’s were marked by his near career ending injury in 2009 when an errant spring hit Massa in the face at full speed, and the abominable team orders decision by Ferrari in 2010 when he was forced to give up a race win to Fernando Alonso one year to the date after his accident.
A fresh start with Williams in 2014 kicked the Brazilian’s career back into gear with multiple podiums per season, potential victories lost at Canada, Austria and Abu Dhabi and a shock pole position ahead of Mercedes at Austria in 2014. Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams had nothing but praise to heap on her current driver at the announcement.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Felipe these past three seasons and we will all be sad to see him leave. Felipe came to us at a time of huge change and his blend of experience, talent and enthusiasm have been an important factor in the turnaround of the team. Anyone who knows Felipe knows what a warm and caring person he is, with an infectious personality. He has done a great deal for our sport over the years and I think every team that has had the pleasure of working with him has great affection for him. I know this has not been an easy decision for him, but we all respect his decision to bring his Formula One career to its conclusion at the end of this season. I would like to thank him, on behalf of all the team, for all his hard work over the last three years and we wish him the best of luck for whatever the future holds. He will always be a member of the Williams family and we hope that he will always feel welcome within our team.”
Massa now has eight races remaining to add to his impressive total of 11 victories, 41 podiums, 16 poles, 15 fastest laps, and 1,110 career points.