Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has spoken fondly of Felipe Massa ahead of the Brazilian driver’s final race for the Italian marque at this weekend’s race in Sao Paulo.
Massa joined the team as a full-time driver in 2006 and has since raced in 139 grands prix, claiming eleven wins. He finished second in the 2008 world championship, coming within a point of the title, and despite failing to reach such heights in the past few years, Domenicali was full of praise for Massa.
“I think that what Felipe did with Ferrari has an incredible history,” he explained. “We had incredible moments together. Difficult too, of course, but he is an incredible guy who deserved what he had and even if it seems a little bit too personal, I consider him a world champion 2008 because he deserved that title here in Sao Paulo.
“So, I think what I can say is that he has always shown his dedication to the team, to the Ferrari family and we wish to him all the best success for his future because he’s young, but for sure he will bring Ferrari in his heart forever.”
Massa has been through many ups and downs with Ferrari including his accident in 2009 and the team orders row at the 2010 German Grand Prix. However, he will join Williams in 2014 as he looks to prove himself as a capable number one driver alongside Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.