Surely one of the best Formula One drivers never to win a World Championship; he came as close as it is possible in 2008 – but it wasn’t to be. A likeable, good natured and dignified character; he has given the fans some spectacular moments. A fast and sometimes erratic driver, Massa has won 11 Grands Prix and driven for two of the greatest teams in Formula One. His life threatening crash during qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 was probably the most severe example of the bad luck that he has encountered throughout his career. But the fans have been with him all the way; we have shared in the pain and the joy.
Born: 25/04/1981 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Net Worth: $8 million
Spouse: Anna Raffaela Bassi
“To be in F1 for 15 years. I am very proud to have been here so long. Even if I lost the championship by one point, I managed to achieve many dreams. I achieved more than I ever expected.”
F1 RACING STATS:
Car number: 19
Grand Prix Starts: 244 (entries 246)
Career points: 1112
Championship Wins: 0
Fastest laps: 15
Karting: Began karting aged 8 and finished 4th in his first season. For the next 7 years he competed in national and international championships.
1998: Started car racing and competed in the Brazilian Formula Chevrolet – finishing 5th in the championship.
1999: Won the Brazilian Formula Chevrolet championship with 3 wins out of 10 races.
2000: Moved to Europe; winning Italian Formula Renault and European Formula Renault championships.
2001: Massa won the Euro Formula 3000, with 6 wins from 8. He also had Formula One tests for Sauber.
2002: Made his debut for Sauber at the Australian Grand Prix and qualified inside the top 10, only to crash out in a multi-car collision on Lap 1. In his next race he took 6th place in the Malaysian Grand Prix. His best result was 5th place at the Spanish Grand Prix. He did make mistakes in his rookie season though, having a tendency to spin off the track – eventually finishing 13th and losing his seat to Heinz-Harald Frentzen for the following season.
2003: On Peter Sauber’s advice he decided to spend the season testing for Ferrari (the team’s engine suppliers). This proved a successful long-term career move.
2004: Sauber, alongside team mate Giancarlo Fisichella. A 4th place at the Belgian Grand Prix was his best result. Massa finished 12th in the drivers’ championship with 12 points.
2005: Team mate Jacque Villeneuve. Massa scored 11 points and finished 13th.
2006: Massa moved to Ferrari, alongside team mate Michael Schumacher. The last race of the season saw an emotional home win for Massa at the Brazilian Grand Prix. He was the first Brazilian to win there since Ayrton Senna. He finished 3rd in the drivers’ championship with 7 podiums and 2 wins.
2007: Team mate Kimi Raikkonen. Finished 4th in the drivers’ championship, with 3 wins and 10 podiums.
2008: Massa was World Champion for all but a few seconds – after crossing the chequered flag first in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton had been in 6th (and had he remained there Massa would have won the championship) but by overtaking Timo Glock he came in 5th – winning the title by a single point. That was the closest that Massa ever came to winning the title; he finished 2nd in drivers’ championship, with 6 wins and 10 podiums.
2009: Some fundamental rule changes saw Ferrari off the pace this season. Massa came 3rd in the German Grand Prix. It was to be his only podium. While qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa had a life-threatening accident – when he was struck on the head by a loose spring from the car of Barrichello. Suffering a fractured skull; he spent several days in a medically induced coma and the rest of the year recuperating – this accident was to put his life and career in the balance. He eventually finished the season 11th in the drivers’ championship, even though he did not participate in the last 8 races.
2010: Massa had a good start to the season with podiums in Bahrain (2nd) and Australia (3rd). But he struggled to match Alonso and was soon cast in a supporting role. He achieved 5 podiums and finished 6th – 100 points behind Alonso.
2011: The 150 Italia proved a difficult car and he failed to achieve any podium finishes. But did come 5th 6 times and finished 6th in the drivers’ championship.
2012: This time it was the F2012 car that Massa struggled with. Team mate Alonso was still much better. Gradually improved and achieved podiums at the Japanese Grand Prix (2nd) and Brazilian Grand Prix (3rd). He finished 7th in the drivers’ championship.
2013: Massa regularly out-performed Alonso this season. But 3rd in Spain was his best result and accidents slowed his momentum. He was to be replaced by Raikkonen in the 2014 season. Massa’s form improved though and he signed to race for Williams. He finished 8th in the drivers’ championship, with just 1 podium.
2014: Williams, alongside team mate Valtteri Bottas. The only non-Mercedes driver to take pole during the season – Massa appeared rejuvenated. He eventually finished 7th in the drivers’ championship, with 3 podiums and 11 top 7 finishes.
2015: In a less competitive car, Massa achieved 2 podiums and finished 6th in the championship.
2016: Currently 10th in the drivers’ championship. No podiums so far. He has recently announced his retirement from Formula One at the end of the season.