Abu Dhabi: Drivers like Felipe Massa can never retire from motorsport. As the hugely popular Brazilian driver of Williams braces up for one last race at the Yas Marina on Sunday, he said he will not be able to keep himself away from the need for speed — though retirement will give him time to try out other things in life.
“I don’t think so, I think I will do what I like to do. Yes, racing is a part of my life, of what I was doing as a kid. I will be racing but I will be finding time for other things as well. Will look for the new moment of my life. I would definitely find a place where I have been all this year — that is inside an F1 car but I’m sure I will find another car that I can enjoy and have fun,” he said at a meet-and-greet session organised by the team management at the Mushrif Mall on Wednesday evening.
In the highly competitive sport of Formula One, one’s time on track is short as it is all about performance. Massa can hold his head high though as he has survived the cut-throat competition longer than many.
Massa reacts as he bids farewell to the crowd after his final home city race at the Brazilian GP earlier this month. (Photo: AFP)
When the pictures of him being airlifted to a Budapest hospital in 2009 with a skull fracture was aired, few would have thought the Brazilian would carry on for another eight years. Massa, who will be making his 269th start at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is only behind five drivers — Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen — who have competed in more Grand Prix than him.
“I had amazing moments to be really emotional in my career I would say. It is the first time I drove a Formula one car, the first podium, the first victory and then I think the moment that stands out is when I won the Brazilian Grand Prix 2006 and then to win it in 2008 was special as I was fighting for the Championship as well.
“I won three times in a row in Turkey — which is also a fantastic track. I had great moments with Williams as well. I finished second here in 2014 fighting for victory again. I’m very lucky to be in this type of profession and I did what I love to do and dreamt to do. Visiting countries and so many different people and racing in the best category in the world and against the best.”
The 36-year-old has weathered everything that F1 has thrown at him — the highs, lows and even survived near death crash.
With no world championship against his name, his 11 wins and 41 podium finishes may not be exceptional enough to put him among the greats the F1 has seen but the Brazilian has certainly made his mark.
The 36-year-old has weathered everything that F1 has thrown at him — the highs, lows and even survived near death crash. And as the twilight race get underway at the Yas Marina, one can be rest assured that Massa will not be overawed by the hype surrounding his retirement. He would definitely be focusing on the task at hand and will be looking to go into the sunset with a last hurrah.
“It is nice track here in Abu Dhabi and there are so many amazing things around the track as well. People are enjoying more and more every year.
I had some good results here and I’m really looking forward to finish with some good points. I had a good race in Brazil and really looking forward to finish with another good race here in Abu Dhabi.
“We will try and keep the fifth position in the construction championship, it’s where we are at the moment. We have some good points ahead of them and I would like to do well and enjoy, which means good finish as well,” he said.
Williams have refused to comment on who will replace Massa for 2018, but Robert Kubica has been tipped as the front-runner to join alongside Lance Stroll. With Massa calling it a day, the only sad part is that there won’t be any Brazilian F1 driver in the 2018 season.
Since the 1960s, it has never happened and during this phase some of the Brazilians have ruled F1 — world champions Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna.
With the Abu Dhabi finale, Massa leaves behind a huge void and the search for another Brazilian driver also begins.
Nation : Brazil
Born: April 25, 1981 (Sao Paulo) 36 years
First Grand Prix : Australia 2002
Best ranked in the World Championship : Second in 2008
Grand Prix: 268 starts: 11 wins; 16 pole positions; 15 fastest laps; 41 podiums; 936 laps led.