F1 2016 Driver Review: Felipe Massa

© Getty Images
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.