Felipe Massa has spent his last day at Maranello as a Ferrari
driver, but was given a memorable leaving present by the Scuderia as he leaves for Williams
The Brazilian's eight-year spell with the Prancing Horse was ended by Kimi Raikkonen's imminent return to the team, but president Luca di Montezemolo repeated his claim that he would forever remain a part of the fabric of Ferrari.
Insisting that Massa should thrive in his new surroundings next year, di Montezemolo thanked him for the role he played in keeping the team at the front of the field – before presenting the stalwart with an engine from the F2008 model that he took to second in the world championship.
“It will do Felipe good to get out from Ferrari,” di Montezemolo said, “He will be back with new motivation, like footballers who change teams for a while before returning to their own.
“The doors of this company will always be open to a man and a driver of his quality. His name is linked to Ferrari
and I want to thank him for his contribution over the eight years he spent with us.”
The speech was interrupted by a long round of applause, ending with a standing ovation, before Massa presented Montezemolo with the one-off helmet, dedicated to Ferrari, which he wore in the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, his last race with the Scuderia.
“We started together so many years ago and I want to thank all of you, mechanics, engineers, everyone who works at the track and behind the scenes in Maranello,” the Brazilian told the assembled audience, “Each one of you has always given me so much support, especially in the most difficult moments and I will never forget what Ferrari
did for me when I had my accident in 2009.
“It's in these circumstances that one understands what it means to be really loved and the atmosphere at Ferrari
and the unique feeling of being part of the family is something I will miss a lot.”
There was also a special thanks for team principal Stefano Domenicali, who had been in charge of race operations for much of Massa's time at Maranello.
“I look on you as my big brother,” the driver admitted, “I thank you for everything you have done for me and for the opportunities you and the president have given me.”
Turning to friend and team-mate Fernando Alonso, Massa joked about the incident at the 2010 German Grand Prix, when he was asked to cede victory on the anniversary of his horrific qualifying accident at the Hungaroring.
“Thanks also to you 'Fer',” he noted, “We will meet again on track and, this time, I will try not to let you through.”