Massa set to bid farewell to the Ferrari 'family'
Felipe Massa will bid an emotional farewell to Ferrari this weekend, insisting he leaves a happy man rather than a frustrated one.
After eight seasons as a race driver and 138 Grands Prix for Ferrari, Massa will pull on the red Prancing Horse overalls one final time on Sunday, fittingly in front of his own fans in Brazil.
A new chapter in Massa’s career now beckons as it was announced last week that the 32-year-old would be joining Williams, effectively as number one driver given his greater experience than Valtteri Bottas.
That will represent something of a novel experience for Massa given his team-mates at Ferrari over the years have been Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso.
For the most part Massa has been viewed as the second driver, always playing a subservient role, in particular alongside Alonso as he has been asked on more than one occasion to give way.
Then there was the agony of missing out on the 2008 title when despite winning the race from pole at Interlagos and being ‘champion’ for 30 seconds, the crown was snatched from him in dramatic fashion by Lewis Hamilton.
Throw in his horrific 2009 accident in Hungary where he almost lost his life, and you would perhaps expect Massa to reflect with some degree of bitterness on his time with the Maranello marque.
But he said: “I’ve had some great times, some difficult times as well. You always prefer great results, great things rather than difficult things, but I’ve learned a lot from everything I’ve done at Ferrari.
“What I can say is I’m a very happy man. Looking back on my career, one I thought I’d never have, I have zero frustration, even when I think back to 2008.
“In the last race, I gave 120 per cent. I started on pole, I won the race, I set the quickest lap, and under very big pressure as I was at home fighting for the championship.
“So I’m very happy with what I did in that last race in 2008. To be honest, I lost the championship elsewhere, in particular Singapore.”
Massa was referring to the ‘crashgate’ saga as he comfortably led from pole for the opening 13 laps until Nelson Piquet crashed his Renault, deliberately so as a later investigation discovered.
It turned the race on its head, with Massa and Ferrari bungling the pit stop that followed as he pulled away with the fuel pipe attached to his car, an incident that dropped him to last place, recovering only to finish 13th.
He said: “In Hungary I led the race but suffered an engine problem (three laps from home), which is something that can happen.
“But what happened in Singapore is unacceptable, it should not have happened, so I lost the championship there.
“But it happened and although I feel sorry, I’m not going to cry over it, and I leave Ferrari not a frustrated man, but a happy man.”
So when people look through F1’s history books, Massa’s name will not be there alongside ‘2008 champion’, but he is convinced he will not be forgotten.
“I would prefer to be a world champion forever, and not just for 30 seconds,” said Massa, with a smile. “But that’s the way it is. I had the most incredible final race of the championship ever, so I’m sure people will remember me.”
For his final race with Ferrari, without doubt the most iconic name in motorsport, Massa concedes there may be a tear in his eye when he gets into the car.
He said: “I will definitely miss the human element at Ferrari. It’s really a family. It’s difficult to have something like that.
“I have a lot of friends there, and I feel so good working with the team, the people. On the professional side, I’m happy, but on the human side, I will miss things.
“So when I get into the car for the final time, I know it will be very emotional. I love the track, I’ve always done a great job there, so I’d like a great finish with Ferrari, one last good emotional race.”