Felipe Massa has announced he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the 2016 season after failing to agree an extended deal with the Williams Martini Racing team.
Announced during a press call ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Massa confirmed the upcoming eight races will be his last in F1, marking the end of a 14 year career that yielded at least 11 wins and 41 podiums. His final event will also be his 250th career race.
"I must start by especially thanking my wife and my father, my whole family, my manager Nicolas and all the people who have supported me throughout my career. Thank you to God for giving me the opportunities I have had in life and, above all, for protecting me. A huge thank you as well to everyone I have worked with over the years.
"Every team I have been a part of has been a special experience, and not only in Formula One. I have so many great memories over the years and thank everyone in all the teams I have come through to help me get to where I am today. My career has been more than I ever expected and I am proud of what I have achieved.
"Finally, it is a great honour to finish my career at such an amazing team as Williams Martini Racing. It will be an emotional day when I finally conclude my Formula One career with my 250th Grand Prix start in Abu Dhabi.”
Making his F1 debut back in 2002, Massa went on to become of the most successful drivers of the modern era, notching up 11 wins and coming to within a point of winning the 2008 Formula 1 world title following a dramatic title showdown with Lewis Hamilton at Interlagos.
Little-known when he was signed by Sauber for the 2002 season, Massa caught the eye by proving quick out of the box, though an erratic driving style would see him sidelined for 2003 in favour of becoming a Ferrari test driver before re-joining Sauber for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
With that development role at Ferrari seen as a precursor to a future race deal, Massa did indeed get his big break in 2006 by replacing countryman Rubens Barrichello. Going on to spend eight seasons with the Scuderia
, Massa clinched his first F1 race at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix and proceeded to accumulate another 10 victories over the coming years.
Massa's F1 career peak would come in 2008 when he emerged as a title contender and embarked on a fierce season-long tussle with McLaren's Hamilton, culminating in a memorable showdown at the Brazilian Grand Prix finale. With Massa winning the race, many believed he had done enough to secure the title, only for Hamilton to grab the fifth place he needed to beat his rival by a single point on the final bend.
Sadly for Massa it was closest he would get to the world title, his career very nearly ending the following year when he suffered a freak accident at the Hungarian Grand Prix after being struck by a piece of debris. He returned to action in 2010 but that 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix win would prove his last.
Nevertheless, though his Ferrari career tailed off ahead of a 2013 exit, a move to Williams at the start of the V6 Hybrid era would prove inspired, the Grove team reviving its fortunes to produce a car capable of podium challenges.
With five more podiums to add to his career tally in Williams colours, Massa's announcement at Monza comes having claimed podiums in Italy for last two seasons.
With Valtteri Bottas expected to be retained, attention now turns to his replacement with Jenson Button considered the frontrunner if he is replaced at McLaren by Stoffel Vandoorne as anticipated.
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