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F1 2015 Driver Review: Felipe Massa

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Felipe Massa

Team: Williams Martini Racing
Car No.: 19
Races: 19
Podiums: 2
Best Finish: 3rd (Austria, Italy)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 121
Laps Led: 19
Championship Position: 6th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

2015 was another good year for Felipe Massa with Williams – ‘good’, but by no means great. There was very little of note from the Brazilian in terms of stand-out performances, with his finest hour arguably coming in Austria when he managed to keep a charging Sebastian Vettel back to score his first podium of the year.

Another followed at Monza after Nico Rosberg’s late retirement, but Massa was largely anonymous throughout 2015. His best chance of ending his seven-year win drought came at Silverstone when he led for the first stint of the race, only for Williams to play it too safe and cause him to drop back.

As he nears the end of his career, it’s quite hard to gauge Massa’s seasons. Frankly, two podiums is a relatively good haul given the pace of the Mercedes and Ferrari cars, and he did well to run Valtteri Bottas as close as he did in the drivers’ championship (although Bottas did start one race less).

It was a very ‘so what?’ year for Massa on the whole though. Forgettable for the most part and too inconsistent towards the end.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

In much the same way as Rubens Barrichello’s career is building towards its conclusion, and the driver is still being appreciated along the way, now 34-year-old Massa had another solid if unspectacular season in 2015. Like teammate Valtteri Bottas, it failed to reach the heights of 2014 but still had its moments of glory.

Austria, which has quickly become Williams’ best track since the track’s return, again provided Massa with a point for his first podium. And for a Brazilian now racing a Williams-Mercedes, ex-Ferrari man Massa is still a crowd favorite in Monza, so banking another podium there was a welcome result.

If there was a demerit to his season, it was that it was a rough final few events for him. From Singapore through Abu Dhabi, Massa only had one top-five finish and an awkward disqualification from his home Grand Prix. It felt a damp squib of an ending to the season where Massa was usually consistent enough to bank solid points. Like Kimi Raikkonen, we don’t know yet if 2016 will be his final season in F1, but you’d like to see him close strong.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.