Massa expects emotional Ferrari farewell at home
SAO PAULO (AP) — Saying goodbye to Ferrari at his home track will be extra special for Felipe Massa.
Interlagos is where the Brazilian driver went through some of his most memorable moments with Ferrari, including “the most incredible” race of his Formula One career in 2006 and where he endured one of the greatest disappointments after losing the world title on the last lap in 2008.
It’s also where he clinched his last F1 win five years ago.
The lack of good results since then has led, in part, to the team’s decision to replace him with former world champion Kimi Raikkonen next season. Massa will drive for Williams in 2014.
“It will be very emotional racing at Interlagos for Ferrari for the final time,” the 32-year-old Massa said ahead of this weekend’s race at the 4.3-kilometer (2.6-mile) track in Sao Paulo.
Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix will mark Massa’s 139th race with Ferrari, second most to seven-time champion Michael Schumacher. In his eight years with the Italian team, Massa won 11 races — none more memorable than his first at Interlagos.
“Winning here in 2006, in my first year with Ferrari, was definitely the most incredible race of my life,” Massa said. “I had a special race suit featuring the yellow and green colors of our national flag and standing on the top step of the podium was more than I had ever expected from my life.
“For a Brazilian to win this race, it’s like winning the world title. It was the most emotional race of my life and I remember it as though it was yesterday.”
One of the most disappointing moments also came at Interlagos.
Massa won the race in 2008 but lost the title by a single point after Lewis Hamilton made a last-turn pass with his McLaren to finish fifth and secure the trophy. Massa cried profusely after finding out that his victory was not enough.
“I didn’t win the title, but I did win the race and also took pole position and set the fastest lap of the race,” Massa said. “So I did everything perfectly that weekend, which made it very special as well.”
Although Massa hasn’t finished higher than sixth in the drivers’ championship since his runner-up finish in 2008, he said he is still proud of his time with the Italian team.
“I’d like to be remembered as an important component of the Ferrari team,” Massa said. “We had great times together, winning races and championships and we also lived through some difficult moments. I am proud to be part of Ferrari’s history. It was always my dream to drive for Ferrari.”
Massa is only eighth in the drivers’ championship heading into the Brazilian GP this season. He has 106 points, 121 less than Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso, who is second in the standings, and 266 points less than title winner Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull.
The only thing at stake for Massa and Ferrari in Brazil is second place in the constructors’ championship. Ferrari trails Mercedes by 15 points with 43 at stake at Interlagos. Red Bull already secured that trophy.
“Just competing in the Brazilian GP is a dream for all Brazilian racing drivers,” Massa said. “I remember sitting in the grandstands when I was a kid, watching Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet and even Rubens Barrichello. After that, to race there in Formula One is a feeling that is hard to explain.”
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