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Brazilian Felipe Massa retires from Formula One

Brazilian Felipe Massa retires from Formula One

Felipe Massa is retiring from Formula One. And this time it is forever.

The Brazilian driver said the same thing last season, then changed his mind and drive this year, although this time he ensures that there is no going back and that Sunday’s race at the Brazilian Grand Prix will be his farewell to the local fans.

Unlike other famous Brazilian drivers like Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi and Nelson Piquet, Massa never won an F1 world championship. He considers himself the “closest” driver, finishing one point behind champion Lewis Hamilton in 2008.

When Massa was close to celebrating, Hamilton rallied on the last lap and scored just enough points to finish one ahead of the Brazilian in the standings.

“Perhaps I am the driver who finished closest to the title in history,” said Massa on Thursday, preparing for his last race in two weeks when the season ends in Abu Dhabi. “This time is the last (race), without a doubt.”

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Massa has 11 career victories, all with Ferrari between 2006-08. He has not won since then, and his retirement means that next season will be the first since 1969 that there will be no Brazilian drivers in F1.

The Brazilian Grand Prix is ​​threatened by reports that it could disappear once the contract expires after the 2020 season, as the country goes through its worst economic crisis in generations.

“It is true that we are suffering,” acknowledged Massa. “It is not an easy time for Brazil, economically. But I really hope that Brazil will stay in Formula One for a long time ”.

Massa was asked to rate his Formula One career on a scale of one to 10.

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He followed in Senna’s footsteps in Brazil, shared a time at Ferrari with Michael Schumacher and was beaten by Hamilton. Those three are considered by many to be the best of their respective generations. Hamilton won his fourth world title just a couple of weeks ago in Mexico.

“Ten is when you win a championship, or even more than that,” Massa replied. «I managed to win many races. I managed to play the championship, maybe to the last meters… If it’s a seven, eight or nine, I am very proud of what I achieved ”.

A year ago, Massa crashed after about two-thirds of the race and was unable to finish it. What he thought was his final farewell took place in the pit area, with a Brazilian flag on his shoulders, with tears on his face and receiving hugs from his wife Anna Raffaela and his son Felipinho.

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“I’m leaving with my head held high and my heart still aching,” he said at the time.

He received a second chance two months later, when Valtteri Bottas left for Mercedes, replacing a retired Nico Rosberg.

Massa agreed to stay with the Williams team for one more year. Next season he is expected to compete in Formula E, the new electric car series.

As he retires for the second time, his main wish for the Brazilian GP is just to finish the race. His best result this season has been a sixth place, but much of the season has been spent deep in the back and away from the points zone.

No matter what happens, it is unlikely that he will get over his first send-off at the Interlagos track, where he grew up watching auto racing. AP

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