Ferrari insists that the time was right for Felipe Massa to leave Maranello after it was confirmed that he will be replaced by Kimi Raikkonen for the 2014 season.

Massa announced on Tuesday evening that he wouldn't be racing in Ferrari colours next year, with the team then confirming the following day that it had re-signed Raikkonen on a two-year deal.

For Massa, it will end a relationship that started when he was signed as test driver back in 2003, with the Brazilian now evaluating his options if he is try and remain part of the F1 grid.

Earlier in the season, it had seemed likely that the 32-year-old would keep his drive for another season but team boss Stefano Domenicali admitted that a tough run of form had then shown it was time for change.

"At the start of the summer, we had a meeting to assess the situation and I reiterated that renewing our agreement was one of the options on the table, maybe it was even the most likely," he said. "Then came a series of difficult races, for him and for the team and in the end, we realised the best choice, for both parties, was to make a change.

"I think that, even for Felipe, the time had come to look outside what had become his home for twelve years and which, to a certain extent, will always be his home. You see, I saw Felipe arrive in Maranello when he was just a kid and I will see him walk out of here a grown man. Together we have lived through some great moments and some dramatic times, which has made the personal rapport between us something special."

Domenicali added that there was one moment that would stick in the memory from Massa's time at Ferrari; the few seconds when elation turned to despair during the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2008.

"The biggest disappointment is that I didn't get to see him become world champion, which he almost did in 2008," he said. "That day and indeed that whole year, there were some incredible incidents which went against him. The lesson in sporting dignity he gave the world that day on the Interlagos podium and also the maturity he displayed while talking to me last night will always stay with me.

"I am proud to have worked with him in our team for so many years and I'm sure he will know how to do some great things outside the Maranello environment."


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