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Ten of Felipe Massa's best races - Brazilian reaches 250 starts before F1 retirement

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Ten of Felipe Massa's best races - Brazilian reaches 250 starts before F1 retirement
Nov 18, 2016, 2:05 PM

Next weekend in Abu Dhabi, Williams driver Felipe Massa will make his 250th Formula 1 race start before retiring from the championship after the fi...

Next weekend in Abu Dhabi, Williams driver Felipe Massa will make his 250th Formula 1 race start before retiring from the championship after the final event of the 2016 season.

The 35-year-old crashed out of his final home race in Brazil last weekend, but as he walked back to the Williams garage he was applauded by the crowd and the Mercedes and Ferrari mechanics, who had lined up to salute his career as he passed by.

It was an emotional moment for the driver who came to within a few seconds of clinching the F1 world championship at the same venue eight years earlier and survived the shocking incident with a loose spring at the Hungaroring in 2009.

XPB.cc Felipe Massa

Writing in his column for Motorsport.com, Massa described the moving scenes in the Interlagos pitlane from his own perspective.

He wrote: “When I got out from the car I could hear the applause of the public, and shortly afterwards a marshal approached me and gave me a Brazilian flag. I looked at him to say thank you and he was in tears.

“It was an emotional scene that affected me very much and as I walked into the pits I heard a crescendo of people shouting my name. I was really moved. A few minutes before I was disappointed not to have finished the race, but had managed to keep my emotions in check.

“But scenes I just could not imagine came when I got back into the pitlane. With the Brazilian flag in my hands, I looked up and saw the mechanics of Mercedes in their race suits had come out into the pits to applaud.

 Felipe Massa

“Then the boys at Ferrari and Williams did the same. If our garage had been at the far end of the pitlane I think all the teams would have come out. It was an incredible scene, and something that I personally have never seen in a pitlane during a race.

“I cannot find the right words to thank all of those who came to say words or give me a handshake. While people often think that F1 is a very cynical world, there is also a human side - and I had the good fortune to experience that first hand on Sunday.”

Ahead of Massa’s final F1 race, and to celebrate him becoming the eighth driver to reach 250 Grand Prix starts, JAonF1 remembers ten of the most memorable races from his 15-year career in the championship, where he drove for Sauber, Ferrari and Williams.

Malaysia 2002

Massa scored his first F1 point in only his second start for Sauber at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2002. The Brazilian driver did benefit from the retirement of a number of cars that started ahead of him, but he rose from 14th on the grid to finish behind his teammate Nick Heidfeld and claim the final point with sixth place.

Felipe Massa

Turkey 2006

Massa had turned around his 2006 season from a disappointing start and he had picked up four podiums in his first year with Ferrari by the time F1 reached Istanbul in late August.

He scored his first career pole position in qualifying at the 3.32-mile track and held the lead off the line ahead of title protagonists Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. A mid-race safety car meant Massa maintained his advantage and he went on take his first ever F1 win by 5.5s, as the championship rivals duelled in his wake.

Brazil 2006

The first of many emotional moments for Massa at Interlagos. While Schumacher drew much attention on his last race for Ferrari and the various problems he suffered over the weekend, Massa took pole and won the race in dominant fashion.

Felipe Massa

In the process, he became the first Brazil driver to win their home Grand Prix since Ayrton Senna did so in 1993.

Bahrain and Spain 2007

After Schumacher’s first retirement, Kimi Raikkonen was lined up alongside Massa at the Scuderia in 2007. The Finn won on his Ferrari debut, while Massa struggled in the first two races of the season.

But that all changed at the Bahrain and Spanish races, as Massa chalked up two wins in a row – with the latter featuring a dramatic Turn 1 clash with Alonso, that sent the McLaren driver across the gravel on the outside of the corner.

Brazil 2007

Massa took pole for the F1 season finale for the second year in a row at his home race and led during the early stages.

Felipe Massa

But Ferrari shuffled its drivers around during the pitstops to give Raikkonen the best shot at winning the title, which he went on to do, with Massa following him home in second place.

Hungary 2008

Arguably the best race of Massa’s F1 career, and yet one that ended in heartbreak for the Brazilian.

He seized first place at the first corner from third on the grid, out braking title rival Lewis Hamilton around the outside of Turn 1 and building a comfortable lead. But, with just two laps remaining, his Ferrari engine let go on the start-finish straight and the win went to Heikki Kovalainen instead.

Brazil 2008

In what has gone down in history as one of the most dramatic F1 races ever, Massa took pole and won the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix. He did everything he needed to do that day to be in with a shot at the world title if other events went his way.

XPB.cc Felipe Massa Brazil 2008

Rain showers throughout the race made for an exciting spectacle, particularly as Hamilton fought to maintain the fifth place he needed to beat Massa to the title.

With the Briton down in sixth place after Sebastian Vettel had moved his Toro Rosso into fifth with just two laps lap, Massa crossed the finish line for the final time as world champion. But Hamilton passed Timo Glock’s slick-shod, gripless Toyota on the approach to the final corner to move back into fifth and deny Massa at the last moment, a development the Brazilian handled with dignity, which earned him much praise and respect from F1 fans and paddock observers alike.

Germany 2010

Another painful moment, which overshadowed a great performance from Massa. He had made a lightning start– a notable feature throughout his career – at Hockenheim and moved ahead of Vettel and Alonso, who had started first and second.

Alonso was up to second by the end of the first lap, but he could not find away to get ahead of his Ferrari teammate for most of the race. The team finally ordered Massa to let Alonso – the better placed of the pair in the drivers’ standings – go by with Rob Smedley’s infamous, “Fernando is faster than you” line, as team orders were banned under the rules in place at the time.

Felipe Massa

The race took place almost exactly one year after Massa’s near fatal accident at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, when a loose spring from Ruben’s Barricello’s Brawn struck his helmet during qualifying.

Austria 2014 qualifying

After leaving Ferrari at the end of 2013, Massa enjoyed a new start at Williams. He scored three podium finishes in 2014 and memorably took the only non-Mercedes pole of the year in qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix.

Abu Dhabi 2014

In the final event of the 2014 season, Massa scored his best result during his three-year stint at Williams (unless he can improve on that in his final race) when he pushed Hamilton hard during the closing stages of the season finale in Abu Dhabi, and took second place.

XPB.cc Felipe Massa

How would you assess Felipe Massa’s career? Which race would you pick out as his best? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams