DRIVERS: FELIPE MASSA

Name: Felipe Massa
Nationality: Brazil
Date of birth: April 25, 1981 - Sao Paulo, Brazil

Felipe Massa, Italian GP 2010

Felipe Massa, Italian GP 2010 

 © The Cahier Archive

From Sao Paulo, Massa arrives in Formula 2 after four seasons in motor racing, although his karting career spanned a seven year period beginning in 1990 when he was nine years old. In 1998 Massa was able to test a Brazilian Formula Chevrolet Championship for Riccardo Tedeschi, a family friend, and he did well enough to be offered a ride in the series that year. He finished fifth but stayed on the following season and won the title. He then took the decision to go to Europe and in 2000 won both the Italian and European Formula Renault Championships at his first attempt. Rather than moving to Formula 3 he took the decision to join Draco Racing in the European Formula 3000 series. He was completely dominant, winning six of eight races and in September did his first tests for the Sauber team, which was looking for a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen. He impressed the team and was signed up to be Nick Heidfeld's team mate in 2002 and did well but was replaced by Sauber at the end of the year. Massa had talks about joining Jordan but eventually settled for the job of being the second test driver at Ferrari in 2003. He returned to Sauber in 2004 and 2005 and did sufficiently well to be hired by Ferrari for 2006.

Paired with Michael Schumacher, Massa did a solid job and was rewarded with his first GP victory in Turkey and another win in Brazil. This took him to third in the World Championship.

With Schumacher retiring, Kimi Raikkonen became Massa's teammate at Ferrari in 2007. Massa won in Bahrain, Spain and Turkey and had seven other podium finishes along with six poles. Massa was still ahead of Raikkonen on points after Turkey, but Raikkonen's three wins in the final five races meant that he was champion. The victory in Brazil, however, was because of team orders. Massa ended up fourth in the championship.

Massa almost won the championship in 2008. When he crossed the line and won the season finale in Brazil he was, briefly, champion. But in the final corners on the last lap of that race Lewis Hamilton managed to pass Timo Glock to snatch fifth place, and that meant that Hamilton beat Massa to the title by a single point. The dignity and sportsmanship that Massa displayed after the bitter defeat earned him worldwide respect. During the season, which began with an engine failure in Australia and a spin in Malaysia, Massa also won five other times and had four podium finishes and six poles.

2009 was a disaster for Massa. A spring that fell off of Rubens Barrichello's Honda during qualifying in Hungary struck Massa in the face. His injuries were extremely serious and he was out of action for the rest of the year. The season had not gone well up until the accident. Massa failed to earn points in the first four races. He then scored in the next five races, with his best finish being a third in Germany. The Ferrari F60, which started the season without a double deck rear diffuser, was inconsistent in the way it used its tires and this sometimes suited Massa and sometimes suited Raikkonen.

Massa insisted that he was fully fit and ready to race in 2010. He had a new teammate in Fernando Alonso, and Ferrari began the season by saying both drivers would get equal treatment. Alonso won straightaway in Bahrain while Massa took second. In Australia, Massa finished third ahead of Alonso who was actually quicker. After that race, at Alonso's demand, Ferrari agreed that he would be the number one driver. The real turning point came in Germany where Massa had managed to slip ahead of Alonso at the start. Ferrari broke the rules that banned team orders by telling Massa to let Alonso through to win. Massa was never really in the hunt after that. He managed a couple of third places but never was close to winning again. Massa said he had difficulty getting the tires up to temperature, and he did, but the bottom line was that he was utterly dominated by Alonso in 2010. Alonso finished second in the championship and earned more than 100 points over Massa who placed sixth.

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