Felipe Massa may not have done enough at Ferrari this season to keep his seat for 2014, but he can leave Maranello with his head held high.
Although it is all too easy to criticize the Brazilian for failing to deliver the wins and podiums that Fernando Alonso racked up, his contribution to the team has still been valuable. And no one should ever forget the way that Massa performed so brilliantly at the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix to be champion for a few seconds, before Lewis Hamilton grabbed at the last corner the point he needed to be title winner.
It is important to state that Massa has always been the consummate professional at Ferrari, acting with total dignity throughout his spell there. There have been highs and there have been lows, but even in the most difficult moments like taking to that podium at Interlagos in 2008 and announcing his Ferrari career was at an end tonight he acted with honor. Ferrari will never forget that.
MASSA’S CAREER AT FERRARI
by Edd Straw
Felipe Massa just missed out on joining the illustrious list of Ferrari world champions during his time with the Scuderia in that sensational climax to the 2008 season in Brazil, but having first raced for the team since 2006 he has enjoyed significant success.
During the past seven and a half seasons, he has established himself as the most successful Ferrari driver without a title to his name and is high up the rankings of race starts, wins and pole positions for the prancing horse.
1 Michael Schumacher, 179
2 Felipe Massa, 132
3 Rubens Barrichello, 102
4 Gerhard Berger, 96
5 Michele Alboreto, 80
6 Jean Alesi, 79
1 Michael Schumacher, 72
2 Niki Lauda, 15
3 Alberto Ascari, 13
4 Felipe Massa, 11
5 Fernando Alonso, 11
6 Rubens Barrichello/Kimi Raikkonen, 9
1 Michael Schumacher, 58
2 Niki Lauda, 23
3 Felipe Massa, 15
4 Alberto Ascari, 13
5 Jacky Ickx, 11
6 Rubens Barrichello, 11
After three campaigns racing for Sauber, and a 2003 season spent testing for Ferrari, Massa becomes Michael Schumacher’s teammate in 2006. He claims his first victory in Turkey, adding a second in the season finale in Brazil to claim third in the championship.
After a difficult start to the season, consecutive wins in Bahrain and Spain establish him as a championship contender. After a third win of the year in Turkey, a suspension failure at Monza effectively puts him out of the title running.
Hands Kimi Raikkonen victory, and the world championship, at Interlagos and finishes fourth in the points.
Victory in the French Grand Prix crowns a run of three wins in six races and gives Massa the lead in the world championship. He adds a further three wins, but victory in Brazil is not enough and he loses the title to Lewis Hamilton, who overtakes Timo Glock for fifth place at the end of the last lap, by a point.
With Ferrari struggling, Massa manages only one podium finish at the Nurburgring before a spring shed by Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn hits him during qualifying for the Hungarian GP.
Massa is out for the rest of the season, but after a remarkable recovery, Ferrari stands by him and he is retained for the 2010 season.
With a new teammate in Fernando Alonso, Massa returns to action for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. He finishes second behind Alonso after outqualifying him, but is the Spaniard’s support act for most of the year.
Controversially hands victory in Germany to the Spaniard and does not win a race, but does take five podium finishes and takes sixth in the title race.
Endures a lackluster season for Ferrari amid Red Bull’s total dominance of the season. Again finishes sixth in the championship, but with under half of Alonso’s points total and fails to finish higher than fifth in a grand prix, a result he claims a total of six times.
By the halfway point of the season, Massa has just 23 points compared to Alonso’s 154, but an upturn in form earns him a new one-year deal to remain at the team in 2013.
A second place in Japan and third place at Interlagos helps Ferrari to second in the constructors’ standings, but he manages only seventh in the drivers’ championship.
Carries his strong late-2012 form into the start of the year, outqualifying Alonso in Australia and Malaysia but struggles to maintain that level of performance.
After 12 races, he lies seventh in the world championship with 79 points compared to Alonso’s 169 and has finished on the podium just once, in Spain.