This weekend Williams Racing driver Felipe Massa will celebrate his 200th Grand Prix start. The Brazilian, who entered Formula One in 2002 with Sauber, is celebrating the milestone at the British Grand Prix where his team celebrated 600 GP a year ago. So here is a look at his magic formula.
Massa entered Formula One in 2002 when he drove for the Sauber team, having just won the Euro Formula 3000 championship in 2002. 12 years on, in 2014, Massa is still on the grid, albeit not for 12 seasons. He was replaced at Sauber at the end of 2002 and had a year on the sidelines before returning in 2014.
Despite having quite a long Formula One career, Massa has only driven for three teams – Sauber, Ferrari and of course now Williams. Massa spent three years racing for Sauber but it is his Ferrari relationship that lasted the longest.
Over the years Massa has driven with a number of high profile drivers. He started his career partnering Nick Heidfeld, before then racing alongside 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, and Giancarlo Fisichella. When he was promoted to a Ferrari race seat in 2006 he partnered seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher before being joined by Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. Raikkonen departed at the end of 2009 and Massa’s next team-mate was Fernando Alonso. Following his departure from Ferrari, Massa has partnered Valtteri Bottas at Williams.
8 seasons at Ferrari
He made his debut in 2003 with Ferrari, spending the year as their test driver. Massa’s stint at Ferrari was a lengthy one and it saw him become one of only a handful of drivers to compete in more than 100 races for one team. At Brazil in 2011, Massa started his 100th team for the team and finished in fifth place. In 2012 and 2013 he added to his tally, and left the team with a grand total of 139 races for the Scuderia. He came close to winning the championship with them in 2008, but was narrowly pipped at the post. In his first season with the team he finished third in the championship.
2nd longest serving Ferrari driver
Massa is beaten only by Schumacher – who raced in 181 races for Ferrari – in terms of the amount of races for the Scuderia. With a total of 139 races, that puts him clear of fellow Brazilian Rubens Barrichello. It also makes Massa third in the all time list for most races with one team – between Mika Hakkinen’s 131 and David Coulthard’s 150, both for McLaren.
Massa has 11 wins to his name in Formula One. His first was at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix before going on to win his home Grand Prix that same year. Wins in Bahrain, Spain and again in Turkey in 2007 brought his tally to five, before winning six more times in 2008. His 2008 wins were at Bahrain, Turkey, France, the European Grand Prix, Belgium, and an emotional home victory which saw him nearly win the world championship. That win also happens to be his last in Formula One to date.
3 wins at the Turkish Grand Prix
Massa took to the Turkish Grand Prix like a duck to water and won the race on three occasions – 2006, 2007 and 2008. He didn’t let anyone else have any of the fun on those three years as he also secured pole position for all three races.
5th Brazilian driver to win in Brazil
In 2006, Massa became the fifth Brazilian driver to win his home Grand Prix. He followed Emerson Fittipaldi (1973 & 1974), Carlos Pace (1975), Nelson Piquet (1983 & 1986) and Ayrton Senna (1991 & 1993).
Including his 11 wins, Massa has stood on the podium a grand total of 36 times. His first Formula One podium was at the 2006 European Grand Prix where he qualified in third and narrowly beat McLaren’s Raikkonen. His most recent podium was last year’s Spanish Grand Prix where he finished third.
16 pole positions
Massa’s first victory was preceded by his first pole position, at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix. He out-qualified his team-mate by mere hundredths of a second but made it count, going on to win by over five seconds. Eight of his wins have come from pole positions, including the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix where he also set the fastest lap of the race. His pole lap was emphatic, beating Jarno Trulli by four tenths of a second.
15 fastest laps
As well as his pole positions, wins, and podiums – Massa also has a number of fastest laps to his name. 15, to be precise. The 2006 Spanish Grand Prix was his first one, and the most recent was this year’s Canadian Grand Prix.
7th – average finishing position in championship
Massa’s average finishing position in the world championship is seventh. Finishing in the top three on two occasions, Massa has finished solidly in the top ten since his move to Ferrari. The one exception is 2009, when he finished 11th, but he was forced to miss half the season after a nasty accident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix saw him hit by a spring and sustaining life-threatening injuries. Thankfully he made a full recovery and was able to return to racing in 2010.
70% of finishes in points
Of his 199 starts, 119 of them have resulted in points finishes. That’s a 70% finishing record in the points. He has a finishing record of 84% from his 199 race starts thus far.
4th most experienced driver on the grid
Massa is the 4th most experienced driver on the grid, behind Jenson Button, Alonso, and Raikkonen. Fellow countryman Barrichello holds the record for most F1 starts, at 322.
1 point away
One point – all that stood between Massa and a world championship in 2008. So near, and yet so far…
So: 12 years + 3 teams + 7 team-mates + 8 seasons at Ferrari + 2nd longest serving Ferrari driver + 11 wins + 3 Turkish Grand Prix victories + 5th Brazilian driver to win Brazilian GP + 36 podiums + 16 pole positions + 15 fastest laps + 7th (average finishing position in the championship) + 70% finishes in points + 4th most experienced driver on grid + 1 point = 200 GP.
The passionate Brazilian impressed at the last race, the Austrian Grand Prix, when he qualified in pole position. He finished the race in fourth place but the Williams duo showed good pace, with Bottas finishing third behind the Mercedes duo. The team showed decent pre-season pace so they will no doubt be hoping to continue their Austrian form into this weekend’s British Grand Prix. Massa’s 100th Grand Prix start was the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, a race which he won…