A changing of the guard at Ferrari means Felipe Massa is on his way out of the team he has raced for since 2006.
Massa’s acquaintance with the team goes back over a decade, as he was appointed to a test role at the team in 2003 following his debut race season for Sauber. Since graduating to the race team he has started 132 races for the Scuderia – more than any other driver in its history bar Michael Schumacher.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali paid tribute to Massa, saying: “I wish to thank Felipe with all my heart and also on behalf of all our fans around the world, for the extraordinary job he has done for the team over so many years.”
“Felipe has always behaved like a real team player,” Domenicali added. “Together we have lived through some great times and also a few dramatic moments, which have helped to cement a truly unique relationship on both a professional and personal level.”
Massa was badly injured in a crash at the Hungaroring while driving for the team in 2009. He missed the rest of the season but since his return in 2010 has been unable to recapture his previous highs, including 11 grand prix wins and the runner-up spot in the 2008 championship.
It remains to be seen whether he will find a place at a team for next year or bow out of F1 completely. “He will always be part of our family and we wish him all the very best for the future,” said Domenicali.
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Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.