Maranello, 11 September – When he first joined Ferrari, he was little more than a kid and he will leave at the end of this season as a man, after twelve years in which the relationship between the two parties was not just professional, but became ever stronger and closer on the personal front. There were times of great joy and disappointment in racing terms, while there were also moments of drama and gestures of mutual respect and loyalty.
At the end of 2001, Felipe Massa was seen by Ferrari as a youngster to bank on for the future, to be given a chance to evolve under the wing of a master like Michael Schumacher and of another Brazilian, Rubens Barrichello, who was tasked with flying the green and yellow flag in a Formula 1 that was bereft of the legend that was Ayrton Senna. Felipe had just won the European F3000 Championship and was seen as one of the best talents of his generation.
The dream, one he shares with all drivers, of becoming World Champion has not happened, but Felipe has earned his place as part of Ferrari’s history. This isn’t just an emotional appraisal, which would be natural at a time like this when announcing his departure, because the numbers confirm the fact irrefutably.
Only Michael Schumacher on 179, has taken part in more Grands Prix for the team than Felipe who has driven in 132; only three drivers, again Schumacher (72,) Lauda (15) and Ascari (13,) have won more times than Felipe and only two, Schumacher of course (58) and Lauda (23,) have secured more pole positions than the Brazilian (15.) He has stood on the podium 36 times, set 14 fastest race laps and scored a total of 756 points. None of these numbers are set in stone yet: there are still seven Grands Prix to go this season in which he can increase those figures and you can be sure that Felipe and the entire Scuderia will be doing everything to succeed in that.