Felipe Massa has certainly announced that he will retire from Formula One at the end of the 2016 season, after 14 years. Not sure about Mr Button who I thought would be off to finish his career at Williams.
The 35-year-old Brazilian is in his third year with Williams, having joined the team in 2014, and is due to celebrate his 250th Grand Prix start at his final race in Abu Dhabi this year. Felipe scored three podiums and one pole position on his way to seventh in the drivers’ standings in his first season with the team, helping Williams climb to third in the Constructors’ Championship. Two further podiums followed in 2015 as Felipe finished sixth in the Drivers’ Championship and the team retained third place in the Constructors’. He is currently ninth in the 2016 championship.
Felipe made his F1 debut with Sauber back in 2002, scoring his first points in just his second race. He was signed as a test driver by Ferrari for 2003, before returning to Sauber for two further years alongside his testing duties with Ferrari. This relationship paved the way for Ferrari’s driver academy which was launched in 2009.
Felipe graduated to a race seat at Ferrari in 2006, alongside seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher. Felipe took the first two of his 11 career victories that season, finishing third in the world championship. He came close to winning the 2008 World Championship with Ferrari, leading the standings with just half a lap of the final race of the season to go, until Lewis Hamilton climbed enough places to claim the title.
Felipe stayed with Ferrari up until he joined Williams in 2014, with his 139 starts for the Scuderia making him the team’s second-longest serving driver ever, behind Schumacher. He remains one of the most popular drivers in Formula One, especially so in his native Brazil, and in Italy following his 11-year stint with Ferrari.
However, it’s not so clear about Jenson Button. On the face of it Stoffel Vandoorne is replacing him. Jenson is sticking around and keeping race fit. In my view he’s still a contender, so what’s going on? Perhaps it’s all about the marketing. Who knows…