Felipe Massa was born in São Paulo on April 25th 1991, but was raised in Botucatu. It was in this small countryside town in São Paulo State that Felipe started showing the first sparks of the skills that would take him to the racing tracks all over the world – at first with a small motorbike and then with the kart he was given by his father.
So it was in the karting that everything started. Felipe achieved a lot of victories in several championships he took part in since 1990. But it was in Formula Chevrolet, where he debuted in 1998 and became Brazilian champion in 1999, that he was first noticed indeed. After winning the series, a move to Europe would be the obvious step in the next season.
In 2000, with a tight budget, enough for the initial races, Felipe joined the Italian Formula Renault, at that time attracting a strong field of more than 50 cars, and proved straight away how good he would be, by winning the opening round at Mugello and raising some eyebrows. He won again the next race and did it once more in the first race of the Euro Formula Renault, a series he was only able to compete thanks to the financial support of his own team. At the end, Felipe won both championships.
The Euro F3000 turned into an absolute success in 2001. Felipe secured the title with six victories in eight races and as the biggest prize he would sign a eight-year contract with Ferrari. In September, already as a Ferrari man, did his maiden Formula 1 test. He got an invitation from Sauber, one of the Formula 1 teams interested in a young and promising driver to replace Kimi Räikkönen, on his way to McLaren. Felipe was quick from the very first laps at Mugello and practically came true his dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver in 2002 for the Swiss team, a Ferrari engines client.
Felipe debuted in the Australian GP with the age of only 20. The first season proved to be positive, with four points in the final standings – the first one right in the Malaysian GP, the second of the calendar, in a time that only the first six finishers were given points. But, still too young and no previous experience, made some expected mistakes and was fired at the end of the year. Returned to Ferrari to work as a test driver in 2003, a year the Scuderia had Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in his official line up.
More mature, Felipe returned to Sauber for another two years in 2004 e 2005. During these times with the Swiss outfit Felipe made clear and loud that was ready for higher flights and was not surprise at all when Ferrari announced that he would partner Schumacher from 2006 on. Repaid the trust with poles and victories in the Turkish GP (his first ever in Formula 1 and also the first of the three he would achieve in Istambul) and Brazilian GP, where he changed the traditional red Ferrari racesuit for another with the yellow and green, the colors of his national flag. It was also the end of a draught of 12 years without a Brazilian driver victory at Interlagos.
Felipe stayed at Ferrari until the end of 2013. In this period of time, the longest ever spent by a driver within the legendary Italian team taking into consideration the original contract signed in 2001, scored 11 victories and 15 poles. Was also the main character of the most thrilling Formula 1 decision ever in 2008, when won the Brazilian GP for the second time and for a few seconds celebrated the conquest of the driver’s crown, just before Lewis Hamilton crossed the finish line in 5th. This result gave the British driver the title and left Felipe runner up by just one point adrift. In 2009 Felipe suffered a serious accident in the Hungarian GP that took him out of the tracks for the ramaining of the season.
At the end of 2013, Felipe announced his departure to Williams and quickly has became a key person in the rebirth that Sir Frank Williams led team has been experiencing since then. Felipe was the sole non-Mercedes driver to start a race on pole in 2014 (Austrian GP) and, pairing with Valtteri Bottas, took the team to the third spot in the Constructors’ Championship.
Name: Felipe Massa
Date of birth: April 25th 1981
Birthplace: São Paulo
Married with Anna Raffaela Bassi Massa. One son, Felipe Bassi Massa
Teams in Formula 1: Sauber, Ferrari, Williams
Number of GPs: 217
Fastest laps: 15
First GP: Australia, 2002
First victory: Turkey, 2006
Figures updated until May 10th 2015