© Getty Images

F1 2016 Driver Review: Felipe Massa

1 Comment

Felipe Massa

Team: Williams
Car No.: 19
Races: 21
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: 5th (Australia, Russia)
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 53
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 11th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Felipe Massa’s swansong Formula 1 season failed to offer any headline results, with the Brazilian appearing off the boil compared to Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas. Sure, the Williams FW38 car tailed off in the development race during the middle of the season, but Massa still struggled to match the Finn for pace.

Like Bottas, Massa enjoyed his best results in the early part of the year when the Williams car was at its strongest. P5s in Australia and Russia were solid results, but the middle of the season offered a barren spell. From Canada to Malaysia, he scored just four points.

A late upturn followed, the highlight being seventh in Austin, but Massa’s time was already up after he announced over the Monza weekend that 2016 would be his last season racing in F1.

Massa got the chance to say an emotional goodbye to his home fans in Brazil, even if it came in rather unfortunate circumstances; being met by a standing ovation after crashing out has the makings of an oxymoron.

Alas, they were evocative images that really did sum up Massa’s career: class, grace and gratitude. No, he was never World Champion, but he did capture the hearts of a nation. Obrigado, Felipe.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Felipe Massa bows out of F1 at just the right time, where it appears he was if not entirely still at the top of his game, he was still close enough to it. You don’t want to be a driver that hangs on a year or two too long, where past glories got further away and you’re found languishing at the back of the field.

Admittedly the magical Massa moments he’d delivered in spurts in 2014 and 2015 were harder to find this year. Massa scored 36 of his 53 points in the first five races through Spain, all finishes in the top eight, while he only broke through into the top eight once in the final 16 races (seventh at Austin). That lack of production hindered Williams in its goal of hanging on to fourth in the Constructor’s Championship, and ultimately saw them fall behind Force India.

That said, Massa got his thoroughly deserved moment in the sun – or rain, as it were – on home soil in Sao Paulo after his accident just prior to pit lane. We don’t get many genuine emotional tear-jerkers like that these days, but the admiration the paddock has for him was special to witness. And with that out of the way, Massa delivered a near perfect final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi with no pressure whatsoever, defending brilliantly against his old Ferrari teammate, Fernando Alonso for ninth.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.