Felipe Massa has announced that he will retire from Formula 1 at the end of the 2016 season. The 35-year-old Brazilian is in his third year with Williams, having joined the team in 2014, and is due to celebrate his 250th Grand Prix start at his final race in Abu Dhabi this year.
Massa made his F1 debut with Sauber back in 2002, scoring his first points in just his second race. He was signed as a test driver by Ferrari for 2003, before returning to Sauber for two further years alongside his testing duties with Ferrari. He graduated to a race seat at Ferrari in 2006, alongside Michael Schumacher. He won two races that year and finished third in the World Championship. Massa nearly won the 2008 World Championship with Ferrari, being pipped at the post on the final lap of the last race, Lewis Hamilton grabbing the title with a last lap charge. Felipe suffered series head injuries in Hungary in 2009 but returned to Ferrari until he moved to Williams in 2014.
“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,” Massa said. “Thank you to 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.”
The suggestion is that the team will soon confirm that Jenson Button will join Valtteri Bottas, but the two parties are still believed to be discussing money.