Today, Brazilian Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa stated his intend to quit the Scuderia Ferrari team for the 2014 season. He does not intend to quit Formula 1.
Massa came close to clinching the 2008 driver’s title, but lost in the closing seconds of the final race – his home race – to Lewis Hamilton. Massa had joined Ferrari from the Sauber team in 2006, where he replaced his friend and compatriot Rubens Barrichello as MIchael Schumacher’s teammate. The next year, Schumacher was jettisoned for Finnish driver Kimi Raikonnen, who had felt frustrated at the McLaren team’s reliability (which cost him wins, and championships). Raikonnen won that year.
In 2009, Massa suffered a severe head injury when a piece of suspension spring from Barichello’s BrawnGP car detached at Hungary. The piece pierced Massa’s helmet and Massa was hospitalised, lucky to have survived.
Massa never won a grand prix again.
There has been a lot of speculation about the second seat at Ferrari, due to Massa’s less than impressive form since his accident. Mark Webber was linked to the drive this year and instead remained with Red Bull – one can only wonder if the politics at Red Bull prompted him to exit and being at Ferrari with Fernando Alonso might have kept him around a bit longer. This year, Kimi Raikonnen is the main name being thrown around, as is Sauber driver Nico Hulkenberg.
Kimi is a character, for those who don’t follow the sport. He seems to get along fine with the other drivers, as evidenced by the candid moments on camera in the driver’s debrief room post-race before they take to the podium. But he hates the media and politics of the sport and usually spouts the best one liners. Here’s an insight into his 2012 moments:
But, there’s issues with him going to Ferrari. Firstly, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemelo paid Kimi not to drive the car in 2010, which prompted a 2 year sabbatical in rallying. Secondly, Ferrari’s invested in a future with Fernando Alonso, who is widely regarded as the best driver racing today. His 2007 season at McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton, was deeply divisive and it created an impression Alonso doesn’t want another “#1 driver” at the scuderia.
Hulkenberg makes sense (though I’d like to see Scotland’s Paul di Resta, of the Force India team, get a decent drive) as a Ferrari driver. He can be groomed to lead when Alonso retires, and he might free up a seat at Sauber for Massa. The Sauber has underperformed this year but Hulkenberg continues to impress regardless.
Whatever comes of it, it’s worth noting Massa did have some great drives and will bow out as another out-and-out racer who never got the title (like Webber).