Williams F1 driver Felipe Massa has announced today that he will be stepping down from the world of Formula One at the end of the year.
The 35-year-old Brazilian is currently in his third year with Williams and is due to celebrate his 250th Grand Prix at his final race in Abu Dhabi, after 14 years behind the wheel of various Formula 1 cars. Massa has made his debut back in 2002 with Sauber, before Williams signed him from Ferrari later on in his career.
He even came close to winning the 2008 World Championship with Ferrari, leading in the drivers standings with just half a lap left in the final race of the season – that is before Lewis Hamilton jumped enough cars in order to secure the title for himself.
“I must start by especially thanking my wife and my father, my whole family, my manager Nicolas and all the people who have supported me throughout my career,” said Massa during a press conference today. “Thank you God for giving me the opportunities I have had in life and, above all, for protecting me. A huge thank you as well to everyone I have worked with over the years. Every team I have been a part of has been a special experience, and not only in Formula One. I have so many great memories over the years and thank everyone in all the teams I have come through to help me get to where I am today. My career has been more than I ever expected and I am proud of what I have achieved. Finally, it is a great honour to finish my career at such an amazing team as Williams Martini Racing. It will be an emotional day when I finally conclude my Formula One career with my 250th Grand Prix start in Abu Dhabi.”
In just his first season with Williams, Massa scored three podiums and one pole position while finishing P7 in the drivers standings, helping the team secure third in the constructors’ championship. For 2016, he currently sits 10th in the drivers standings, 6 points shy of Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and 9 points clear of McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso.
During the press conference, Williams deputy team principal Clair Williams was also present on stage, saying that it had been “a pleasure to work with Felipe these past three seasons and we will all be sad to see him leave.”
“Felipe came to us at a time of huge change and his blend of experience, talent and enthusiasm have been an important factor in the turnaround of the team. Anyone who knows Felipe knows what a warm and caring person he is, with an infectious personality. He has done a great deal for our sport over the years and I think every team that has had the pleasure of working with him has great affection for him. I know this has not been an easy decision for him, but we all respect his decision to bring his Formula One career to its conclusion at the end of this season. I would like to thank him, on behalf of all the team, for all his hard work over the last three years and we wish him the best of luck for whatever the future holds. He will always be a member of the Williams family and we hope that he will always feel welcome within our team.”
As of right now, Bottas remains the only Williams driver secured for the 2017 season, however, there have been rumors circulating about Jenson Button joining them next year.