2008 Summer Volume 8 No. 1

Don’t Stop Me Now!

...a Champion’s Can Do Attitude Leads to Success

Felipe Massa was born in 1981 in Botucatu, Brazil, in the State of São Paulo. His grandfather emigrated there from Cerignola, Italy. He began karting at the age of eight, achieving a fourth-place finish in his first season. He found his life’s passion then, continuing in national and international championships for the next seven years. In 1998 he moved into Formula Chevrolet, finishing fifth in the Brazilian championship, and winning three of ten races, taking the championship that year.

Moving to Europe in 2000 to compete in the Italian Formula Renault series, he won both that series and the European Formula Renault championship, giving him the opportunity to move into Formula Three, an open formula that allowed a choice of chassis and/or engines. Instead, he opted for the Formula 3000 Euro-Series—a motorsport single-seater series that was replaced by the GP2 Series. In 2001, Massa dominanted the Formula 3000 series, winning 6 of the 8 races to take the championship. In 2002, he was offered a Formula One test with the Sauber team, which promptly signed him. In the interim, not to be idle, he drove for Alfa Romeo in the European Touring Car Championship as a guest driver.

In his rookie year in Formula One, Massa was paired with the 1999 Formula 3000 champion Nick Heidfeld, at the Sauber team. Although he made some rookie mistakes that year, he earned four championship points in his first season, scoring a best result of fifth place at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya. While he learned the ropes, he brokered a deal with Scuderia Ferrari that, after gaining experience with the Sauber Team, he would move on to Ferrari. Ferrari agreed that Sauber would sign Massa for the 2004 season, where he scored 12 of Sauber's 34 points. His best result that year was a fourth-place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix. His teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, scored the team's other 22 points. In 2005, still with Sauber, Massa scored 11 points, outpacing his teammate Jacques Villeneuve through most of the season, and beating him in the drivers' championship. Finally, in 2006, Massa joined Ferrari as a race-driver, alongside Michael Schumacher.

Massa got a good start at Ferrari, qualifying second at the opening race in Bahrain, and came from 21st position to 5th in Malaysia, beating teammate Michael Schumacher, who'd started from 14th. He scored his first career podium at Nürburgring, Germany, finishing third, behind Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. He also set the fastest lap at Barcelona that year, achieving four more podium finishes in 2006, in the USA, France and Germany and took his first Formula One pole position and his first Forumula One win at the Turkish Grand Prix, in the Istanbul Park circuit. He won the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, marking the first time a Brazilian driver won at Interlagos since 1993.

During the 2007 pre-season testing, Massa set the fastest lap for four circuits. His season got off to a slow start with some slow finishes in Australia and Malaysia, but he fought back, undaunted, and won the Grands Prix of Bahrain and Spain, both from pole position, and finished third in Monaco. After a false start disqualified him from the Canadian Grand Prix he won the 2007 Turkish Grand Prix, and finished on the podium at six more races, including a second place finish at his home grand prix at the Brazilian Grand PrixMassa.

In October 2007, Massa extended his contract with Ferrari through 2010.

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