On March 3rd, 2002 Felipe Massa entered his first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix in Australia behind the wheel of a SAUBER PETRONAS. Unfortunately, poor luck meant a DNF for the young Brazilian. Since then Felipe has managed a further 258 Grand Prix. His first win was at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix (Starting from his first pole position) and has continued to rack up 11 wins from 16 pole positions and been on one of three steps on the podiums 41 times. The one thing that has eluded this experienced and mature driver is a world championship.
The 2008 campaign was the closest he got. The title was all his, until the last two corners in the Formula One season. Glock slowed down, letting Hamilton passed onto a world championship title. Some commenters called it the biggest fix in the history of the sport, Glock denied all suggestions. One thing is for sure watching Massa’s father and the Ferrari pit crew celebrating with 20 seconds of the race left, gave you goosebumps, and the change of expression as the realisation hit home that the celebrations were premature were some of the hardest sporting TV broadcast.
Victim of a freak accident in 2009 that knocked him unconscious and put his career and life in jeopardy, he was airlifted to a Hungarian hospital where he remained in “a serious but stable condition” for some time, sedated in an induced coma with his breathing being managed by a respirator.
A spring, weighing just 700 grammes, from the back of Jensen Buttons car had somehow penetrated the top of his visor and injured Massa above the left eye, perilously close to the cornea. The accident came six days after 18-year-old Henry Surtees died of injuries received when he was struck on the head by an errant wheel in another freak accident during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch. Both events sparking the start of the enclosed cockpit debate still going on today. Massa demonstrated the remarkable courage to clamber back into an F1 cockpit just 11 weeks later. His last podium was before his retirement at the 2015 Italian Grand Prix
Massa performed a sensational sporting turnaround by returning to Williams just two months after retiring. Nico Rosberg suddenly retiring and Valtteri Bottas signed by Mercedes to replace him, the Brazilian was easily persuaded back to Williams for another season.
TV’s F1 the Grid has given us this extended interview with the man himself, “A CAREER IN RETROSPECT”
Moving on staying at Williams?
Felipe Massa says he is open to extending his stay in Formula 1 beyond the end of the season with Williams.
The Brazilian has suffered from some poor luck this season, and after a coming together with Carlos Sainz in Canada that resulted in a lap one retirement, Massa was aiming for a strong result in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Massa’s luck seemed to return as he avoided most of the chaos of Baku, and benefitted from the correct tyre strategy to put him and Stroll into P4 and P5. Unfortunately, by Lap 26 Massa was bouncing his way into the pits with a broken damper and Stroll took Massa’s place. Stroll went on to get third place. Later Paddy Lowe later suggested that Massa could have won, we will never know.
Massa, (used to being a Ferrari rear gunner) seems happy with his current team, happy to stay. With his experience of Ferrari in mind, he recently stated that he feels ex-team mate Kimi Raikkonen faces a “tricky” situation at Ferrari as “the team bids to end its long title drought in Formula 1 this year” He knows what Ferrari orders can be like when they can smell a championship.
He went on to say
“I think the Kimi situation is quite tricky from now on, because Ferrari has a big chance to win the championship,”
“Ferrari has not been winning things since 2007, and 2008 the constructors’ championship, so they will try everything they can.
“And unfortunately, if you see the difference in points, Kimi is not in the position [he needs to be].
“He needs to accept what things can happen and it will happen.”
Seemingly happy not to be so caught up in team politics, the senior driver at Williams continued:
“Things are going well. I feel very competitive, as I like the car that I am driving. I love the new rules. For my driving style everything works very well – the only thing that has to be sorted out is the ‘luck issue’! (Laughs) So I don’t see any point not carrying on.”
Williams seems happy to carry on – Lowe quoted today as saying that “Massa at the peak of his powers in F1”
For what it is worth, I hope so, I am well known for NOT following a particular team or having a favourite driver it is F1 as a whole I love. Actually, I don’t generally like anyone, I’m not that keen on my own kids most of the time… but Felipe Massa is the one I dislike the least.