An endearingly popular figure among fans and his fellow drivers, Brazilian Felipe Massa enjoyed a long tenure at Ferrari that saw him come as close to winning the World Championship as can be without doing so – in a long battle with Lewis Hamilton in 2008 – and displaying a rare quality of dignity in defeat.

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Massa joined Formula One in 2002 with Sauber, before taking a year as test driver with the Scuderia the following year. His race debut – as team mate to Michael Schumacher – came in 2006, and he would remain a Ferrari driver until the end of 2013, one of the longest tenures of any driver with the team.

A Team Player

Like his countryman Rubens Barrichello before him, Massa was under no illusion in the early years that his job was to act as a number two to Schumacher, yet this did not stop him putting in some quite superb performances along the way. He won two races in his debut year for the team and, in 2008, actually scored six victories to Hamilton’s five in a year fraught with controversy and spectacle.

At the Hungarian Grand Prix of 2009, Massa was struck in the face by a suspension spring that had broken off the Brawn he was following (ironically that driven by his friend Barrichello). In earlier, less safety-conscious times, such an accident at high speed would have had very severe consequences. As it was, Massa was badly injured but recovered to drive again in 2010.

Dip in Form

There are some who believe that Massa never recovered his full form after the accident, but as he always did, he continued to give everything he could in an effort to help the team. He would leave Ferrari at the end of 2013 to join the Williams team, where he stayed – despite officially retiring at the end of 2016 – until the end of the 2017 season.

Massa built a loyal following, and not just among Ferrari fans, as a driver who – on his day – could match anyone out there, and will be remembered as one of the stalwarts of the post-2000 years. His next step in motor sport is not yet decided.

Stats:

Starts – 269

Wins – 11 (all for Ferrari)

Podiums – 41

Pole Positions – 16 (all for Ferrari)

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