Brazilian driver Felipe Massa is to retire definitively from Formula One at the end of the season, he announced on Saturday.
The 36-year-old Williams pilot – who won 11 Grand Prix to date – decided to call it a day as his team are yet to confirm their line-up for next season.
Massa had indicated he would like to compete again next year – having originally changed his mind about retiring at the end of 2016 – but Williams are thought to be favouring giving Robert Kubica, who has performed miracles to return after a terrible crash in a rally in 2011, the drive alongside Lance Stroll.
Massa, who suffered a serious injury when hit by the suspension of a rival’s car in the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, said he cherished his time in the sport since making his debut in 2009.
His best finish overall was runner-up for Ferrari to Lewis Hamilton in 2008 after a thrilling season-long battle.
Deputy team principal Claire Williams said Massa had been an absolute dream to work with.
Williams Martini racing confirms that Felipe Massa will leave the team at the end of the 2017 Formula One season.
Felipe made his debut with Williams in 2014. During the last four years, he has helped the team secure third place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2014 and 2015, and fifth place in 2016. After initially indicating he would retire at the end of last year, he returned at Williams’ request for the 2017 season, and the team currently stands fifth in the Constructors’ Championship.
Felipe Massa said: “As everyone knows, after announcing my retirement from Formula 1 last year, I agreed to return this season to help Williams when the call came. I have now enjoyed four great years with the team, but my career in Formula 1 will finally come to an end this season. Once more, I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout this time: my wife and my father, my whole family, my manager Nicolas and all my friends, colleagues and sponsors. I would also like to add a huge thank you to all of the fans who have been incredibly supportive and passionate over the years. I take so many great memories with me as I prepare for my final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and although they will be emotional, I am looking forward to ending on a high note and preparing for a new chapter in my career.”
Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, Williams Martini Racing added: “I would like to thank Felipe for all he has done for the team over the last four years. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with him. We are especially grateful that he agreed to postpone his retirement from Formula One for a year, after Valtteri joined Mercedes, which demonstrated the depth of the relationship we built during our time together. We appreciate that it wasn’t an easy decision for him to return, after having such an emotional send-off at the end of last year. On behalf of Sir Frank, and all the team, we give our very best wishes to Felipe for the future.”
The team will announce its 2018 driver line-up in due course.