Massa announces he’ll leave Ferrari in 2014

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Felipe Massa announced Tuesday on Twitter, via an Instagram post, he will no longer be driving for Ferrari in 2014.

Massa wrote: “From 2014 i will no longer be driving for Ferrari. I would like to thank the team for all the victories and incredible moments experienced together. Thank you also to my wife and all of my family, to my fans and all my Sponsors. From each one of you I have always received a great support! Right now I want to push as hard as possible with Ferrari for the remaining 7 races. For next year, I want to find a team that can give me a competitive car to win many more races and challenge for the Championship which remains my greatest objective! Thank you all. Felipe.”

Massa joined the team in 2006 and has won 11 Grands Prix for the team, although none since the memorable 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, a race he famously won but lost the World Championship to Lewis Hamilton on the last lap.

Massa’s injuries sustained at Hungary in 2009 cost him the rest of the season and upon his return to the team, with new teammate Fernando Alonso in 2010, Massa was never able to regain the same level of competitiveness. He was forced to move aside for Alonso in the 2010 German Grand Prix, a race he was leading at the time, thanks to the infamous “Fernando is faster than you” radio message transmitted by the team.

It’s been a shame in some respects because the team held firm to Massa from 2006, when he joined as Michael Schumacher’s “little brother,” to nearly winning the 2008 title, to coming back after his injuries.

He was particularly on form the second half of 2012 when he outqualified Alonso in several events towards the end of the season, but ultimately, too inconsistent in terms of big points-scoring results and podiums to keep his seat any further.

Whether Massa is able to fulfill his wish of a new team with a competitive car – at least in F1 terms – for 2014 is now the question mark. Lotus figures to have an opening because Kimi Raikkonen has been inextricably linked to Massa’s seat, and this announcement likely pushes that rumor forward.

But as it is, Massa’s departure will certainly mean the end of a Brazilian number 2 at Ferrari – something the team has had since 2000, when Rubens Barrichello joined Michael Schumacher to begin the Scuderia’s reign of dominance atop Formula One.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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