F1: Felipe Massa Announces Retirement From Formula One Racing At Season’s End

Jacob Seelman 0 Comments

Felipe Massa has announced he will retire from Formula One racing at the end of the season. (Charles Coates/Getty Images Europe photo)

Felipe Massa has announced he will retire from Formula One racing at the end of the season. (Charles Coates/Getty Images Europe photo)

MONZA, Italy — In an emotional press conference on Thursday ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Felipe Massa announced that he will be retiring from Formula One competition when his contract with Williams expires at the end of the season.

Massa has spent the last three seasons with Williams and sits 10th in the Drivers’ Championship, with 39 points scored this season and a best finish of fifth at both the Australian and Russian Grands Prix.

The 35-year-old Brazilian will make his milestone 250th and final Grand Prix start in the season finale at Abu Dhabi in November. He currently has five podium finishes with Williams since joining the team in 2014.

“I’m more nervous now than all my race starts,” Massa said to open the press conference. “After 27 years of my racing career, since I started karting and with 15 years in F1, this will be my last season in F1.”

“I’m so proud to have been part of this team,” he added. “Williams had a difficult moment and then we managed to get (some) amazing results in the last two (seasons).”

Massa’s career began as part of the Ferrari family, racing for customer team Sauber and debuting on the grid in 2002. He added seasons there in 2004 and 2005 before moving to Ferrari itself in 2006, beginning an eight-year tenure with the Prancing Horses.

During his time at Ferrari, Massa scored all 11 of his career wins (fourth all-time for the team) and 15 of his 16 pole positions (third all-time for the team).

It was also during his Ferrari tenure than Massa had the two most notable incidents of his career.

He came famously close to winning the drivers’ title with his final Grand Prix victory at his home race in 2008 — the last round of the season — when he led the standings with just half a lap to go, but Lewis Hamilton climbed enough places on the last lap to dramatically deny him the crown by a single point.

In 2009, he suffered life-threatening injuries in a freak qualifying accident in Hungary, when a loose component from another car struck his helmet. He returned to the grid with Ferrari the following year, however; ultimately earning 139 starts for the Scuderia and becoming the team’s second-longest serving driver, behind only seven-time World Champion and his long-time mentor, Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher’s initial retirement announcement at Monza in 2006 was a big reason why Massa’s came at the same venue, he added.

“I chose this place because 10 years ago Michael announced his retirement (here),” Massa said. “The only way for me to stay (at Ferrari) was for him to stop. He chose to give me this option to stay.”

Williams did not comment on who will replace Massa for next season, but team principal Claire Williams offered many words of thanks for the personable Brazilian’s time with the organization.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Felipe these past three seasons and we will all be sad to see him leave,” Williams said. “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. … He will always be a member of the Williams family and we hope that he will always feel welcome within our team.”

 

About the Writer

jacobseelmanJacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.

Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at: speed77radio@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

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