F1 2014 Driver Review: Felipe Massa

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Felipe Massa

Team: Williams Martini Racing
Car No.: 19
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 3
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 134
Laps Led: 30
Championship Position: 7th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

After so many years in the shadows at Ferrari, Felipe Massa hit back with a vengeance in 2014, enjoying heights with Williams that he hadn’t reached since his title bid in 2008. The Brazilian was in a far happier place this year, away from the pressure of Maranello and the ongoing change that marred Ferrari’s season.

His three podium finishes were all thoroughly deserved, running Lewis Hamilton close at the final race in Abu Dhabi with a fine display. If there were doubts about Massa’s ability waning heading into 2014, they will undoubtedly have been cleared after a great season.

Arguably, P7 in the drivers’ championship doesn’t do justice to Massa’s performances this year. Luck was never on his side, as seen in Australia when Kamui Kobayashi took him out and in Canada when Sergio Perez did the same thing. Sometimes, Massa did make mistakes, such as in Germany when he made contact with Kevin Magnussen at the start and rolled his car, but there is no doubt that the Brazilian is back in business.

In 2015, Felipe will be gunning to return to the top step of the podium, and few would begrudge the popular racer a win.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

The 2007 to pre-Hungary 2009 Felipe Massa was back with a vengeance in 2014, and there would be few people in the paddock disappointed with that. Massa has suddenly become one of F1’s elder statesman, and as the leading Brazilian in the championship, the pride of a nation that features so many fervent, passionate fans.

Massa was lucky to come back to F1 after his Hungary injuries – such was the devotion and dedication Ferrari showed him. But from the time he returned it was apparent he wasn’t the same driver who so nearly won the 2008 championship, and once the mind games were installed at Hockenheim 2010 from Fernando Alonso, there was no turning back. Although physically on the grid these last four years, it rarely felt as though Massa was passionately on the grid. Going into most races, you’d think Massa could pick up some minor points at best, and that thought process was a shame.

For all who thought his switch to Williams would be the beginning of the end for him, it was welcome to see that wasn’t the case. Massa was desperately unlucky to only bank 18 points from the first seven races. But he was the only driver other than the factory Mercedes pairing to score a pole, and each of his podiums was a tear-jerker for the right reasons. Third at Monza came in front of his longtime tifosi, third at Sao Paulo came in front of his home fans, and second at Abu Dhabi was very nearly the day where he returned to winning. That day should happen in 2015.

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).