Taking part in the final pre-race press conference of his Formula One career, Felipe Massa was once again bombarded with questions over the emotions he is feeling as he goes into his 250th and final race weekend.
After heavily emotional scenes at his home race in Brazil just under two weeks ago, it is only common sense that we will see more of the some come Sunday evening here in Abu Dhabi.
However, the lovable Brazilian was only too eager to talk about his impending retirement…
Felipe obviously in Brazil incredible emotions in the pit lane, incredible scenes, unprecedented really in Formula One. Rival teams such as Mercedes and Ferrari were coming out to applaud you as you walked back towards the garages. Describe the emotion of that moment?
It’s difficult to describe. It was such an amazing feeling. The first moment after I crashed I was not happy because I wanted to finish the race. My last race at home… I even prepared a Brazilian flag in corner one to do the lap and I was so disappointed to finish like that. But then when I started to walk and I started to kind of talk with the grandstand I just had an amazing feeling. I started to cry, I couldn’t hold. That walk I was doing was like forever. It was an amazing feeling; it’s impossible to describe what I was feeling. And then when I get to the pit lane, I saw all the teams out, I couldn’t believe. It is still in the middle of the race and the race just stopped. For that… that feeling is just impossible to describe, how emotional it was and how thankful I am for everything that I pass through this year. The only thing is to say thank you for everybody, including you guys, including everybody that was around me for this period that I was racing Formula One. I really hope Jenson feels the same here in this race, because it’s a very special feeling and a very special emotion and I’m really thankful for everything that I passed through. And as Jenson said, I’m so happy and proud of my career, even if I couldn’t have the title like him, I was missing one point but anyway I’m so proud for everything I passed through, everything I worked with, or friends, incredible and difficult moments… it was really an amazing feeling.
Two hundred and fifty and out then this weekend, you are the only driver to have finished in the points in all of your races in Abu Dhabi? How do you want to sign off on Sunday?
With a good result! That’s what I wanted to finish with also in Brazil! I’m really looking forward that we can have a nice race here. I think a good result is what gives you more happiness. I managed to finish here second two years ago. I know it will be not easy to get the same this race, but if you can take the best out of the car, if you can do a good race that is when you feel happy.
As you get ready to leave the sport there are a lot of changes coming in 2017, what are your hopes for the future of Formula One as you leave the sport?
Well, I hope to be honest what everybody hopes: to see Formula One more competitive; to see more than one team fighting for the championship; to see more drivers winning the races. That’s what everybody has hoped since a long time in Formula One. That’s what I hope to see when I am watching the television, to see these guys fighting, not to see only one guy winning the races or maybe only one team. So that’s what I hope.
With 15 years of experience in Formula One, what would you do differently to what you did in the past?
To be honest, you do so many things in this long time of your career. Maybe one or the other you would try to do different now – but I mean, to be honest, I’m really happy for everything I did, really happy for everything I learned. Even with a difficult situation, that it happens, maybe I would do it differently yes, but I was always professional and I gained more by doing that than by doing different, so I’m really happy for everything I passed through and everything I learnt.
You spoke about the emotional send-off you got in Brazil. I wanted to ask you, at the end of the day, leaving with that sort of respect and regard, does it count for me than the trophies and the championships?
Definitely. I think that is what you represent in the human side. That’s really than a lot bigger than a simple trophy. That really represents a lot and the respect, how you are, I think that’s really important for me as a person. Definitely. People not just looking at you only as a driver, people looking at you as a person, as a driver, as everything. It really represents me massively for everything that happened.