Felipe Massa to retire from F1 at end of season

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FILE – In this Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017 file photo, Williams driver Felipe Massa of Brazil speaks during a media conference at the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. Formula One driver Felipe Massa will retire at the end of the season, it was announced on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. The 36-year-old Brazilian driver was originally going to retire from the Williams team last season, but changed his mind after Valtteri Bottas suddenly left Williams to join Mercedes. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert, file)

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press

Formula One driver Felipe Massa will retire at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old Brazilian was originally going to retire from the Williams team last season, but changed his mind after Valtteri Bottas suddenly left Williams to join Mercedes.

Massa has 11 wins and 41 podiums from 268 races. His last race is at the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 26, and he will bid goodbye to home fans at the Brazilian Grand Prix next week at Interlagos.

“I have now enjoyed four great years with the team, but my career in Formula One will finally come to an end this season,” Massa said Saturday in a team statement. “I take so many great memories with me as I prepare for my final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and although they will be emotional, I am looking forward to ending on a high note.”

Massa was in tears last year as he walked around the track in Brazil carrying the national flag, thinking that it was his farewell. But after Bottas was drafted in as an emergency replacement for retired world champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, he stayed on another year. This time it really will be his last home race.

He is in 11th place in the standings this season with a best finish of sixth, at the season-opening Australian GP and then in Bahrain two races later.

Massa, one of the most well-liked drivers on the circuit, overcame a serious head injury sustained at the Hungarian GP in July 2009.

He never won the F1 title, missing out in 2008 in the cruelest fashion. After winning the season-ending GP in Brazil, he thought the title was his and his Ferrari team began celebrating wildly.

But Lewis Hamilton moved up to fifth place on the last lap and beat him to the title by one point.

Massa was third in the 2006 championship, also for Ferrari, behind teammate Michael Schumacher and champion Fernando Alonso. But since that dramatic defeat in 2008 he has never been close again.

Williams did not announce who will replace Massa next season to drive alongside 19-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll, who is 10th in the standings.

But Polish driver Robert Kubica is touted as a possible replacement for Massa, in what would be a sensational return to F1 after his right hand was partially severed during a rally race in 2011.





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