Brazil’s Massa crashes but gets warm farewell at home GP

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Williams’ vet­eran driver Felipe Massa failed to fin­ish his last race in front of his home crowd at In­ter­la­gos on Sun­day, but he still earned a warm and emo­tional good­bye.

In a Brazil­ian Grand Prix deeply im­pacted by rain, Massa crashed out in the 48th of 71 laps when he was in 14th po­si­tion.

In tears, the 35-year-old driver walked through the pit lane wrapped in a Brazil­ian flag and was greeted by his wife Anna Raf­faela, his son Felip­inho, a rowdy lo­cal crowd and mem­bers of all teams.

“I am leav­ing with my head up and my heart still aching,” Massa told re­porters by the pit lane. “I apol­o­gise to this crowd, this is not the re­sult that I ex­pected here. I can only thank them for the love, for all the emo­tions that I felt.”

The Brazil­ian driver also said he ex­pects to be part of a dif­fer­ent rac­ing se­ries next year, with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails.

Massa has 11 Grand Prix ca­reer wins, in­clud­ing two in Brazil. Two weeks from now, he will make his fi­nal ap­pear­ance in a For­mula 1 car at the sea­son-fin­isher in Abu Dhabi, after reach­ing his 250th start.

Massa’s F1 ca­reer be­gan in 2002 as a mem­ber of Sauber. He shone at Fer­rari, the team that gave him his best chance at the ti­tle race in 2008. At a Brazil­ian GP that he won, Massa lost the crown to Lewis Hamilton after the Bri­tish driver made a key over­take on the very last lap.

One year later Massa’s life was put at se­ri­ous risk after he was struck on the head by a wheel at the Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix. He stayed in the hos­pi­tal for days.

Massa joined Williams in 2014. In the cur­rent sea­son he is 11th with 51 points.

With his re­tire­ment and the dif­fi­cul­ties for Felipe Nasr of Sauber to re­new his con­tract, there is a chance that no Brazil­ian driv­ers will be on the grid in 2017. That would be the first time in 48 years.

There are no other Brazil­ian driv­ers in Europe be­ing con­sid­ered for a place at the mo­ment.

Sun­day’s race was won by three­time se­ries cham­pion Hamilton, forc­ing a show­down for the sea­son ti­tle with Mercedes team­mate Nico Ros­berg in Abu Dhabi.

Williams’ Felipe Massa of Brazil cries after he had to with­draw from the race due to car prob­lems Photo: AP

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