Massa to quit at end of F1 season

Thu Sep 1, 2016 9:22am EDT
 
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By Alan Baldwin

MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Felipe Massa, the Brazilian who almost won the Formula One championship for Ferrari in 2008 before Lewis Hamilton snatched it away at the last corner of the final race, is to retire at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old Williams driver, who won 11 grands prix for Ferrari between 2006 and 2008, is out of contract at the end of the year and said he had decided some months ago that this season would be his last.

"After 15 years in Formula One... this will be my last," Massa told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix, saying he was more nervous about making the announcement than he had been before any of his races.

"The last eight races in Formula One I will really enjoy as much as I can."

The season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be Massa's 250th F1 start, and his departure will open a desirable vacancy at a Mercedes-powered team.

Britain's 2009 world champion Jenson Button, 36, of under-performing McLaren, has been linked with the seat although he has yet to decide whether he will continue.

Massa, who survived a near-fatal head injury in Hungary in 2009 when he was hit on the helmet by a bouncing spring shed from compatriot Rubens Barrichello's Brawn car, joined former champions Williams from Ferrari in 2014.

Although he denied that accident had affected his performance, and could remember little about it after emerging from a coma, the Brazilian has not come close to winning since.   Continued...

 
Belgium Formula One - F1 - Belgian Grand Prix 2016 - Francorchamps, Belgium - 27/8/16 - William's Felipe Massa of Brazil during the final practice session. REUTERS/Yves Herman