Brazilian driver Felipe Massa made a heartfelt tribute to his Williams Formula One team at the end of his home race on Sunday afternoon, the last time he will turn a Formula One wheel in anger in front of his loyal home fans.
As he came up to cross the line in a hard fought seventh place with the charging McLaren of Fernando Alonso still on his gearbox where he had been for half the race, Felipe thanked the grove based squad for everything they had done for him and for giving him the chance to come back again in 2017 and have the chance to finish his final home race in points paying position.
After announcing his retirement in 2016, his ‘last’ home grand prix ended after just a few laps and he had an emotional trip down pitlane with the Brazilian flag over his shoulders, the fans cheering him on and tears flowing unabashedly down his face.
But this time out it was a race he was proud of, crossing the line in a points paying position and able to wave to all his fans on the cool down lap….
“It’s such an amazing result and such an amazing feeling to pass through all of this in my career,” he said afterwards. “The race was perfect, from beginning to end. An amazing start, overtaking a few cars, then an amazing restart after the safety car, passing Alonso. I knew it would be very important to pass him for my race and result. “
‘After that, a perfect race. I managed to keep him behind, even without tyres at the end. I’m so happy and emotional about my race. I finish with my head held high, that’s the most important thing, in this place which is amazing for me. The only thing I can say is obrigado, I will miss all of you guys.”
“First of all, it was a fantastic race with amazing weather and a magnificent crowd. Felipe had a good start and got to sixth before the safety car was deployed,” added Williams’ Paddy Lowe. “He made another position on the restart from Alonso and was able to execute a perfectly timed pitstop to prevent the undercut from Alonso. ”
“Alonso spent the whole race trying to come back but never made it stick, even whilst under threat from Perez who was behind. Felipe drove a perfect race, managing all of his systems, and particularly the tyres, to maintain that defence and finish very strongly as the “best of the rest” in the current competition.”
When the top three were interviewed after the race, fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello found Felipe to ask him how his race was both physically and mentally…
“I’m really emotional because of all you guys. So thank you very much for everything that we passed together. For all the support, for all the energy that I felt here, for making the best race I could, and to be honest I’m so happy for my race. I did the best of the car, what the car could achieve. So thank you, thank you very much, all of you guys. All of you guys that we work together, even the people that I didn’t work together but I love you guys. Thank you very much.”
Without a doubt the final race in Abu Dhabi will be an even more emotional one for the retiring driver.