Understanding Ferrari's Emotional Goodbye to Felipe Massa

Fraser MasefieldContributor IDecember 17, 2013

Massa bid an emotional farewell to Ferrari in Brazil after eight years with the team
Massa bid an emotional farewell to Ferrari in Brazil after eight years with the teamMark Thompson/Getty Images

When Felipe Massa crossed the finish line in the Brazilian Grand Prix to bring down the curtain on an eight-year spell with Ferrari, he had tears in his eyes.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali spoke from the heart over the radio when he told Massa, “We love you. You will always be in our hearts and don’t forget an important thing: You are a world champion for us. Obrigado Feli, Obrigado!”

Massa had finished in seventh place after a gutsy drive from ninth on the grid and, but for an inexplicable drive-through penalty for crossing the pit-entry line, may well have finished on the podium. It would have been a fitting end, and a clearly emotional Massa thanked Domenicali for his kind words.

“Thank you guys! Thank you so much! Don’t say such words because I could cry at the wheel!”

Why such an emotional goodbye? Massa has always been a popular and well-liked figure amongst fans and those who work in the industry and has been a loyal servant to the Ferrari cause.

Five years earlier, Massa also had tears in his eyes as he crossed the line in Brazil believing he had pipped rival Lewis Hamilton to win the world title on home soil. Moments later, those tears of joy turned to tears of despair as Hamilton passed Timo Glock’s ailing Toyota on the penultimate corner to snatch the title.

Aside from his 2008 championship year, Massa has had to play second fiddle to his teammates at Ferrari, notably Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. But Massa did have the better of Raikkonen in 2008 and won more races than any other driver that season.

After his near-miss in 2008, much was expected of the Alonso and Massa pairing the following season, but after a couple of technical terrors blighted the opening part of his season, an incident at the Hungarian Grand Prix changed his career.

Following Rubens Barrichello, Massa’s helmet was stuck with extreme force by a suspension spring that fell from the Brawn car, fracturing his skull and leading to surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation period.

Massa missed the remainder of the season and, although he was back for the following year, he was never quite the same driver after his near brush with death, and his performances tailed off rapidly.

Two heavy crashes at Monaco and one in Montreal this year seemed to put further doubt in Massa’s mind, and he admitted afterwards, as quoted on Autosport, that the Canadian crash had affected him psychologically.

"Physically I'm fine. This crash was nothing compared to Monaco, it was much slower. The crash I had here is more psychologically you know, rather than physically. So I need to forget about that and start a different thing."

Massa enjoyed an extremely close relationship at Ferrari with his race engineer Rob Smedley and, as the Sky Sports video feature shows, they are the best of friends and always will be.

It will be tough for Massa to move on from his Ferrari family of the past eight years, and that is why Brazil was so emotional, since eight years is a long time to be with one team.

Many thought that leaving Ferrari would be the end but Williams saw something in Massa that was worth taking a gamble on.

The Brazilian was well-liked at Ferrari, never kicked up much of a fuss and has experience in abundance that can only be a help to the highly rated Valtteri Bottas.

Perhaps it’s not that much of a gamble after all.