Ferrari paid homage to Felipe Massa last weekend as the Brazilian made his final appearance in 'Red' in Italy.
Massa will leave the Scuderia at the end of this season having been replaced by Kimi Raikkonen, bringing to a close his eight-year stint with the Maranello-based outfit.
Massa was present at a dinner in Florence on Saturday night, which was opened by him arriving in an F1 car and ended with a ten minute standing ovation. He was then at the Ferrari World Finals event in Mugello the following day, where he demoed the F10 – Ferrari's 2010 F1 car - in front of some 15,000 fans. After his run he was presented with a special trophy, which had been engraved with the names of the eleven F1 races he has won with the Scuderia.
“These are memories that will stay with me always, just like so many other beautiful moments spent together, starting with the wins,” Massa said. “For example, I think back to the wins at Interlagos, because for a Brazilian, to win your home race is something amazing. Sure, the dream just slipped out of my grasp, namely winning the world title in front of my home crowd, but that wasn't the race where I lost the 2008 title: when you finish second by a point the key moment could have come at so many different places and I'm thinking of Singapore for example, or Budapest, or others still…”
“When I began racing in go-karts as a kid, I had a red Ferrari suit and it's always been the team I supported,” Massa added. “Even when [Ayrton] Senna was at McLaren and [Nelson] Piquet at Williams, I was cheering for Ferrari!
“We began our relationship in 2001 and I have raced for them for eight seasons, which is a very important part of my life. I have so many friends at Ferrari and I will miss them, as I will also miss the nice days I spent at the factory in Maranello.
"I am happy with the way my time with the Prancing Horse turned out.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo meanwhile publicly thanked Massa for all his efforts while driving for the Scuderia.
“Felipe has been a true Ferrari man and he will always be part of our history, for all the Grands Prix he drove for us, for the wins, the pole positions and for those few seconds when he was world champion that day in Brazil, before that overtaking move that always seemed a bit strange to me,” Montezemolo continued.
“We spent some great times together, while some others were more difficult, such as the accident in Budapest. These have been very busy years and today, I wanted to thank him publicly, having already done so privately, just the two of us.
“I think the decision to go our separate ways is the right one, both for us and for him. It's time for a change and also to find new motivation.
"I wish Felipe every success, starting with the last two races of this championship. As for the rest of his F1 career, I wish him the very best, but naturally, behind a Ferrari and anyway, I am sure we will get many chances to meet up again, because life is long and he will always be part of our family. When one has a mutually agreed separation, in the best interests of both parties, it can be done calmly in a friendly and constructive manner, and that has been the case this time.”