Felipe Massa has announced his retirement from Formula 1 during a special press conference at Monza, Italy. Over the past 15 years, the Brazilian driver has become a household name, having made the jump to F1 after winning the 2001 Euro Formula 3000 championship. Massa began his F1 career with Sauber, a team that he stayed with for three seasons, following which he had successful stints at both Ferrari and Williams F1.
On his retirement, Massa said, “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. 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 1 career with my 250th grand prix start in Abu Dhabi.”
In his first season at Sauber in 2002, Massa proved that he had what it takes to be a future race winning driver. He acquired four championship points, his best finish all season being fifth place at the Spanish GP. In 2006, Massa moved to Ferrari, replacing fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. He stayed there until the end of the 2013 season, partnering Michael Schumacher in 2006, and Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.
To say that the 2008 season was eventful is an understatement. Massa was involved in a championship battle that went right down to the wire, with Lewis Hamilton taking the championship by just one point at the Brazilian GP, the last race of the season. Massa won the race and had already begun celebrating, only to find out that on the last lap, Hamilton had passed fifth-placed Toyota driver Timo Glock, giving Hamilton the points he needed to beat the Brazilian and take the World Championship.
Sadly, in the 2009 season, Massa didn’t get a chance to capitalise on his previous season’s success. During the Hungarian GP, Massa was struck by a spring that escaped the suspension of the Brawn GP car being piloted by Rubens Barrichello. The spring struck his helmet with such force that it was able to break the helmet and impact Massa on the forehead, just above his eye, knocking him unconscious. He suffered extensive bone damage, which required facial reconstruction surgery, and was ruled out of the rest of the season.
From 2010 to 2013, Massa had a rather sedate journey in F1, with just three podiums. In 2014, he parted ways with Ferrari, to make way for Raikkonen’s return to the team. He switched to his current team, Williams, where he partnered with Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas. Massa enjoyed some success with Williams, with a pole position and three podiums in his first season with the team.
Over the course of his career, Massa had amassed 11 victories and claimed 1,110 championship points. Massa’s future in F1 has a matter of speculation, with the likes of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez being linked to Williams. But now that his retirement has come to light, it is the fuel that Formula 1 silly season needs to continue speculating the driver line-ups for 2017.