F1 2015 Driver Review: Felipe Massa

© AP

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.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale


Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”