Felipe Massa

A brief biography of Williams driver Felipe Massa, including his career history and Formula One statistics

Felipe Massa
© XPB Images

Key stats

Date of birth:25/05/1981
Team:Williams F1 Team
Grand Prix entered:252
Highest race finish:1st (x11)
Highest grid position:1

Felipe Massa fell in love with karting aged eight and spent the next seven years competing in national and international championships before switching to single-seaters in 1998 in the Brazilian Formula Chevrolet Championship. He won the series the following year and followed that up with the Euro F3000 title in 2001, notching up six wins in eight races.

That naturally attracted interest from Formula One teams, and in 2002 Massa was handed a race seat with the Sauber team alongside Nick Heidfeld. While clearly talented, Massa also made a number of rookie errors and incurred a one-race suspension that meant that he missed the US Grand Prix. Benched for the following season, Massa spent the year gaining experience as a test driver for Ferrari and Sauber subsequently rehired him, now alongside Giancarlo Fisichella (2004) and then Jacques Villeneuve (2005).

Massa lost his seat when Sauber was bought out by BMW, but this proved to be a blessing when Ferrari came calling with an offer to pair him with Michael Schumacher at Maranello. In his first season with the team in 2006 he picked up his first career podium (in the European GP at the Nurburgring) and subsequently his first victory (in the Turkish GP). He won again in Brazil, making him the first Brazilian to win his home race since Ayrton Senna.

He would win it again in 2008, in what would prove to be his last Formula One victory as he missed out on the world title in dramatic fashion. For a few seconds Massa was world champion before Lewis Hamilton secured the fifth place required for the championship at the final corner, leaving the iconic image of a proud but emotional Massa on his home podium.

The following year in Hungary saw Massa seriously hurt when his helmet was hit by debris from another car during practice. His condition was initially described as "life-threatening but stable," but he made a full recovery. He missed the remaining races of the season but made an emotional return to Sao Paulo when he waved the chequered flag at the end of the Brazilian GP.

Mounting frustration with being seen as the perpetual wing man to senior team-mates including Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso reached its peak during the 2010 German Grand Prix when race engineer Rob Smedley radioed: "Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?" - a coded team order to let Alonso pass. He left Ferrari at the end of 2013, since which time he has been driving for Williams where he picked up five more podiums before announcing he will retire at the end of 2016.

Following Nico Rosberg's announcement that he would retire after winning the 2016 championship Felipe Massa was announced as a William's driver for 2017, as Bottas heading to Mercedes meant the team needed to fill the vacant seat alongside Lance Stroll.