Felipe Massa announced his retirement at this year’s Italian Grand Prix, the Brazilian driver getting extremely emotional as he told of his plans to hang up his gloves and race suit, put his helmet into storage and walk away from his fifteen year career as a Formula One racing driver.
As a racer at the top of the Motorsport elite, one of two dozen of the best racing drivers in the world, Felipe has experienced the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows, once he did both in the same hour, winning his home race in Brazil, then losing the world title a minute later.
As we go into his home race this weekend, the penultimate round of 2016 and his Formula One career, we pay tribute to one of the nicest drivers in the paddock, who will only grace the championship for two more races….
A is for: Ana Elena Massa, Felipe’s very beautiful and devoted mother, without whom Felipe would not be where he is today, a Formula One veteran with almost 250 Grand Prix races to his credit. Always with a smile on her face, Ana attends aces to cheer on her famous son, who she affectionately calls ‘Fi’ and is always around whenever he needs some motherly advice.
B is for: Sao Paulo Brazil, the country where he was born on the twenty fifth of April 1981.
C is for: Formula Chevrolet, where he won the Brazilian crown in 1999, the first time he ever felt the pure joy of securing a championship title, taking three wins out of a possible ten on offer.
D is for: Dolce Gabbana, a famous brand of clothing designed by two very famous Italians, who produce a superb style that Felipe likes a great deal and chooses to wear as often as possible. As often as he can, Felipe visits their Corsio Venezia store in Milano.
E is for: Eduardo, Felipe's brother and number one fan, watching on from the pits at most of Felipe’s races. Eduardo also likes to race as he has tried his hand at touring car events and also contests the occasional go kart race, mainly the Granja Viana 500 Mile.
F is for: Ferrari, where he was taken on as test driver in 2003 in order to learn from one of the greatest Formula One drivers in the history of the sport, Michael Schumacher. This is often hailed as the best move of his career as in 2006 he returned as a full time driver and remained there until 2013 when he made the move to Williams.
G is for: Goodbye, something he will be saying to his Formula One career in Abu Dhabi.
H is for: Hungary where he was hit in the helmet by a loose suspension spring that had fallen off Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn Honda during the second round of qualifying at the Hungaroring. Despite having his helmet for protection, the spring smashed through and knocked him unconscious and he went head first into the tyre barrier. The spring had penetrated his helmet above the left eye, but thankfully there was no permanent damage, apart from a scar that reminds him how close he actually came to disaster. He did however, sit out the remainder of the season.
I is for: Interlagos where Felipe’s first job of delivering pizzas to his local Formula One circuit when he was just seven years old led to the opportunity of meeting some of the famous names in Formula One. It is also the venue that saw him cross the line to win the 2008 drivers crown, only to lose it minutes later when Lewis Hamilton passed a retiring car to take one more point.
J is for Jeans: Felipe is not really your tuxedo wearing type of guy, instead he is a lot more comfortable in everyday jeans and if the truth be known, over time he has managed to amass quite a huge collection!
K is for: Karting. Felipe has held a charity karting race, Desafio Internacional das Estrelas (International Challenge of the Stars) every year since 2005. A lot of top level drivers have taken part over the past eleven years including Rubens Barrichello and Nelson Piquet, Jr., Tony Kanaan, Roberto Moreno, Gil de Ferran, and Stock Car Brasil champion Cacá Bueno. Michael Schumacher took part in 2007 along with Vitantonio Liuzzi, Jeff Gordon and Jaime Alguersuari.
L is for: Luis Antonio Massa, Felipe’s very dedicated and proud father for whom Felipe has complete admiration. Luis’s dedication and passion towards his son’s racing career is a big part of the reason why Felipe is where he is today. He attends most races with his son and is always seen experiencing the highs and lows from the team garage.
M is for: Michael Schumacher, the seven time world champion who taught Felipe a lot about Formula One during their time as teammates at Ferrari until the seven time world champion retired. Despite Schumacher’s skiing accident that has left Schumacher a shadow of his former self, Felipe continues to visit and spend time with the German.
N is for: Robert de Niro. Felipe may not have a lot of spare time to watch movies, but when he does he enjoys a classic de Niro film such as Casino.
O is for: One, the amount of children he has. A son, Felipinho who was born on 30 November 2009. Massa jnr is often at races with mum and dad and stood by his side as he announced his retirement at the Italian Grand Prix in 2016.
P is for: Peter Sauber, the former team boss of the Sauber Formula One team, who introduced him to the pinnacle of Motorsports in 2002. This opened a door into the series and he has never looked back. Sauber is only one of three teams where the Brazilian has raced, along with Ferrari and Williams.
Q is for Qualifying on pole, something Felipe has done 16 times to date in his 15 year Formula One career.
R is for: Raffella Bassi, Felipe’s loving and very loyal wife who has stood firm by his side through thick and thin for many years.
S is for: Shopping, a hobby that unlike a lot of men, Felipe really enjoys! He loves to buy watches and of course, clothes! It also stands for soccer, another sport that he thoroughly enjoys participating in and does so during some Grand Prix events in the build up to the actual on track action.
T is for: Jean and Nicolas Todt, the father and son team who played a very important role in Felipe’s life. Jean was the team boss at Ferrari, while Nicolas has always managed his Formula One career.
U is for: Utter devastation after the elation of becoming the first Brazilian driver to win his home grand prix since Aryton Senna, he sat in his Ferrari with tears streaming down his face. The team breaking to him as gently as they could that yes, he won the race, did all he needed to to win the drivers crown, but no, thirty seconds after he won, he was told, no, you haven’t.
V is for: Victory, his first coming in Turkey 2006, his first season as a driver for the Scuderia, the first of eleven times he stood on the top step of the rostrum.
W is for: Williams, the third and final team of his Formula One career.
X is for: XXL, the size of Felipe’s talent. Ever since joining Ferrari in 2006 he has shown the F1 world that he is capable of almost anything. Sadly, he never won a championship, but he has held the admiration of everyone in the paddock, drivers, team members and fans alike.
Y is for Yacht: Unlike a lot of his fellow Formula One racers, this is one toy that Felipe has yet to acquire.
Z is for: the zest he portrays, both for his racing career, his family and life itself.