After 15 seasons on the grid, Felipe Massa is leaving Formula One, having completed his last race this weekend in Abu Dhabi. But his team won’t let him go without a parting gift. And what a parting gift it is.
According to Motorsport.com, Williams is giving Massa his F1 racer as a gesture of goodwill. The Mercedes-powered FW38 is the same one he drove two weeks ago in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
For his last home race, Williams Martini Racing worked up a special livery, replacing the Martini name with Massa’s and emblazoning the word “obrigado” (Portuguese for “thanks”) on the rear wing.
Massa made his grand-prix race debut for Sauber back in 2002. He got called up to drive for Ferrari in 2006, and spent the last three seasons driving for Williams. Though never a world champion himself, he helped the Scuderia win two constructors’ titles (driving alongside Kimi Raikkonen), and won 11 grands prix. His career has been managed by Nicolas Todt, son of current FIA president (and then Ferrari chief) Jean Todt.
Receiving his last F1 car is a heck of a gesture on Williams’ part, but hardly an unprecedented one. Teams have been known to gift a car to one of their drivers on rare occasions. Renault, for example, gave both Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso their cars after winning their respective back-to-back world championships. However Jenson Button, who is also leaving the paddock this year, had some trouble getting his promised car from Mercedes after winning the championship for Brawn GP.