Ferrari has paid tribute to its outgoing driver, Felipe Massa, at its annual World Finals event at Mugello over the weekend. Aside from the final two Grands Prix of the season in the United States and in his Brazilian homeland, this was Massa’s final public appearance for the team.
Over 15,000 fans braved appalling weather to head to the Tuscany circuit to bid farewell to Massa, who took part in a series of demonstration laps in some of the Ferrari F1 cars he has raced over the years.
The Brazilian has raced full-time for the team since 2006, having previously alternated between test driver roles for the team and racing for Sauber.
Barring any further improvement to his overall statistics with the team, Massa will leave the team as its second-longest serving driver and as the driver who has competed the most Grands Prix – 191 all up – powered by Ferrari engines (which powered his two seasons with Sauber as well).
His record of eleven wins for the team – tied with teammate Fernando Alonso – is only bettered by three other drivers to have represented the ‘Prancing Horse’, and he also has a further 25 podiums, 15 pole positions and 14 fastest race laps to his credit.
Undoubtedly the greatest highlight of his career came in 2008, where he lost out on the Drivers’ Championship title to Lewis Hamilton by a single point.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was also present to pay tribute to Massa, telling the crowd: “Felipe has been a true Ferrari man and he will always be part of our history.
“We spent some great times together, while some others were more difficult, such as the accident in Budapest. These have been very busy years and I wanted to thank him publicly, having already done so privately, just the two of us.
“I think the decision to go our separate ways is the right one, both for us and for him. It’s time for a change and also to find new motivation. I wish Felipe every success, starting with the last two races of this championship. As for the rest of his F1 career, I wish him the very best, but naturally, behind a Ferrari. I am sure we will get many chances to meet up, because life is long and he will always be part of our family.”
Next year, Massa’s seat at Ferrari will be taken over by his former teammate, Kimi Räikkönen. Massa is himself believed to be in negotiations to sign with Williams.