Felipe Massa has bowed out of Formula One after 269 grands prix, 11 victories and one of the most heartbreaking championship near-misses of all time.
The success he went on to enjoy might have surprised those who saw the occasionally wild driver who made his debut for Sauber 15 years ago. But even then there were glimmers of the potential which was realised once Ferrari’s faith in him was rewarded.
Here are some of the highlights from Massa’s career in pictures.
When Massa arrived at Sauber in 2002 many wondered if he was another of Peter Sauber’s astute young signings in the same mould as his predecessor, Kimi Raikkonen. He turned out to be, and the pair later became team mates at Ferrari.
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After an occasionally wild debut season Massa spent 2003 as a Ferrari test driver. He then returned to race action and it soon became clear he had smoothed out the rough edges and was now a highly accomplished racer. Even so his promotion to Ferrari in 2006 surprised many.
Massa had one year racing alongside Michael Schumacher during which he was able to learn from the most successful driver in the sport’s history. He also became an F1 race winner for the first time, at Istanbul Park, and scored his first emotional triumph on home ground.
Another would have followed in 2007 but he had to let that one go in order to ensure new team mate Raikkonen won the title. Twelve months later another home win wasn’t quite enough to prevent Lewis Hamilton beating him to the championship.
That proved Massa’s final win. A serious crash in mid-2009 left him with head injuries and after his return to the cockpit in 2010 he rarely came close to winning again. An exception was at the Hockenheimring that year where Ferrari ordered him to let Fernando Alonso, his latest team mate, through to win. That set the tone for his three final years at Ferrari during which time Alonso was the dominant force.
At Williams, the now highly experienced Massa was paired with the upcoming talent of Valtteri Bottas. While the latter finished ahead in all three of their seasons together Massa often ran him close and gave the team its only pole position at the Red Bull Ring in 2014.
Massa intended to bow out after their third year together. But following an emotional farewell to his home fans at Interlagos, Bottas’s sudden promotion to Mercedes opened the door for Massa to return for a final season, again as the more experienced hand alongside rookie Lance Stroll.
Though he had little to show for this final year it might have been different had his car gone the distance at Baku, where a win was on the cards. Instead a fighting seventh at Brazil, where he was the first driver home not in one of the top teams’ cars, stood out as one of the highlights from his final year.
Felipe Massa quiz
How well do you know Massa’s F1 career? Take the F1 Fanatic Quiz here:
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