Felipe Massa‘s announcement didn’t come as a complete surprise to everyone, but the loss is still the same, as he will no longer be a Ferrari driver at the end of the 2013 Formula One season.
Massa was a true asset to Ferrari’s history and legacy. He had the second longest tenure at the team, next to Michael Schumacher, and earned 11 fantastic wins with the team. His time there was full of success, but much of his career with the Scuderia was a case of what might have been.
After his horrific accident in the summer of 2009, Massa was a different person. That spark fans became so used to in 2008 when he nearly won the world championship was extinguished, and whenever it resurfaced, his opportunities were squandered by team orders. Fans will never forget that infamous radio message from the German Grand Prix in 2010, when Massa’s engineer told him: “Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand this message?” This was just the beginning of a strained, but faithful, relationship between Massa and Ferrari. The team remained committed to retaining the Brazilian, even when his results did not justify it, and the team backed him up whenever he improved.
This is why it is painful to watch this partnership end. Felipe will go down in history as perhaps not one of the greatest drivers to ever have driven for Ferrari, but certainly the greatest Ferrari driver.
No one knows where Massa will be next season. He remains adamant that staying on the grid with a competitive team is still his goal, and that fighting for the championship is what he wants to do.
The way seems paved for either Kimi Raikkonen or Nico Hulkenberg to take the now vacant Ferrari seat in 2014.