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Felipe Massa: Young Ferrari Driver Changes Perception to Become F1 Favorite

By

Felipe Massa
Photo (c) Ferrari

Name:

Felipe Massa

Born:

April 25, 1981 in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Team:

Ferrari

Height:

5'4"

Weight:

130 lbs.

Hobbies:

Music, cinema, soccer, water sports

Previous F1 Teams:

  • 2002 Sauber
  • 2003 Ferrari test driver
  • 2004 - 2005 Sauber
  • 2006 - 2008 Ferrari

    Victories:

    5

    Background:

    Felipe started go-karting racing at age 8, and spent nine years in the sport, without winning a championship as he never had the budget for a good kart. Even so, his results were good and he moved to car racing in 1998 in the Formula Chevrolet series, which he then won the following year. In 2000 he moved to Europe and won the Formula Renault Europe and Italy championships. He then joined the Euro Formula 3000 series and won it too.

    His Career Thus Far:

    With such clear success in the lower formulas, Felipe was spotted early on my Ferrari and signed to a retainer contract for several years. But he started racing in F1 at the Sauber team - powered by a Ferrari engine - and in his first season, in 2002, he was considered fast, but a bit wild. He finished five races in accidents.

    He he took a year off racing the following season, test driving for Ferrari, and learning more technical baggage and "calming down." When he returned to Sauber in 2004, Peter Sauber, the team owner, said that he had improved vastly, and indeed after scoring only 4 points in 2002, he scored 12 in 2004.

    Massa at Ferrari:

    In the meantime, Felipe began to be managed by Nicolas Todt, the son of the Ferrari director, Jean Todt. When in 2005 Ferrari was suddenly faced with the departure for the next season of Rubens Barrichello, Felipe become the obvious choice to replace him in 2006. Kimi Raikkonen was likely to join the team the following season, and Michael Schumacher had not made up his mind whether he would retire. Felipe signed with Ferrari for a year. Felipe was one of the revelations of the 2006 season, winning races at the Turkish Grand Prix and the Brazilian Grand Prix. Schumacher announced his retirement and Felipe and Raikkonen became teammates for 2007. Felipe outperformed Kimi early in the season and was one of four challengers for the drivers' title right up to near the end of the season, dropping out only after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Even so, he won three more races and scored 20 podiums in 2007.

    Character:

    Felipe has one of the simplest, most easy going personalities in Formula 1. His childlike genuineness did not served him well as a driver trying to prove his talent and abilities, however, as it meant that he was often overlooked as a serious contender. While he was a teammate with Jacques Villeneuve, he would often do better lap times during practice or qualifying, but journalists would ignore Felipe and crowd around Villeneuve. But that low profile also allowed Felipe to develop at his own pace. He said that his first two victories, particularly the victory in his home race at the end of the 2006 season, silenced his critics and proved that he had his place at Ferrari. In fact, Felipe went on to show in 2007 that he could now be considered a serious contender for the drivers' title.

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