A 'great race' for Felipe Massa as he bows out of Formula One at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Denzil Pinto 26/11/2017
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Felipe Massa will go into retirement from Formula One exactly how he wanted to after describing his last drive as “a great race”.

The Brazilian bid farewell to the competition he has served for the last 16 seasons with 10th-place finish on his 269th start, earning him a point at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Before driving his Williams car back into the garage, he did multiple donuts on the Yas Marina Circuit track and was thrilled with his result.

“I think it was a good race for me,” said Massa, who finishes the 2017 campaign joint-10th with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg with 43 points.

“From the beginning to the end, it was a great race`and we were fighting the whole way again. I’m happy with the race and I’m very lucky to been racing in this competition for 16 years in Formula One. Driving against some of the best drivers in the world, racing with great teams and I’m very lucky to have been able to achieve that and have an amazing career.”

Massa says he will go back to Brazil and spend more time with his family but has not ruled out a return to racing in the future. A move to Formula E seems to be his next likely destination but insists he will carefully assess his options of which team to sign for.

The Brazilian had tested for Jaguar ahead of a possible drive for the 2016-17 season but was persuaded by Williams to extend his F1 career for another year following Valtteri Bottas’ move to Mercedes.

Formula E, driven with electric cars, was launched in 2014-15 by the FIA with its races held on a temporary street circuit of up to 4km long. So far, it has attracted a number of former F1 drivers  including Jarno Trulli, Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve.

With the fourth edition of the championship beginning in Hong Kong next weekend, he will have to wait at least another 12 months for an opportunity. But he says he will not rush into a decision, saying that he doesn’t want to sign up just to make up the numbers.

“Formula E wouldn’t be now as the new championship is just starting next week,” he said. “All the good teams have signed their drivers and I’m not planning to race just to be there. I want to be there in a competitive side and with a good team. That’s what I’m looking for in the next championship.

“I feel I’m competitive and I can enjoy drive in other championships. I can still race but we’ll see.”

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Lando Norris to wait for next step towards Formula One dream as he targets 2019

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British teenager Lando Norris has admitted he would have run the gauntlet of guns in Brazil to take another step on his path to Formula One stardom.

Norris’ McLaren team scrapped their two-day test in Sao Paulo earlier this month after a series of harrowing security incidents overshadowed the penultimate round of the campaign.

Eight of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team were robbed at gunpoint, while Pirelli, F1’s tyre supplier who were due to take part in the test with McLaren, were targeted after the race on Sunday, but escaped unharmed.

Norris, the heir to Hamilton’s throne after a string of impressive displays in the junior ranks of motor racing, had flown to South America to take part for McLaren. But he left without turning a wheel in anger and another chance to impress. He departed Brazil less than 24 hours after he arrived.

“If it was on, then yes, 100 per cent,” said Norris, 18, when asked if he wanted the test to go ahead. “It was another opportunity to drive, and one you have to take. You do what you can and sacrifice other things to go and do it.

“I was looking forward to doing another test in Formula One. It was in Brazil, which I think is a pretty cool track to drive at. I was obviously disappointed.”

Norris turned heads with his impressive display in his first official F1 outing at August’s test in Hungary – in which he was second only to Sebastian Vettel – before going on to seal the prestigious F3 championship with two races to spare in Germany last month.

He was rewarded by McLaren after he was promoted to the role of reserve driver for 2018. It was also confirmed at the recent Mexican Grand Prix that Norris will partner Fernando Alonso at the prestigious Daytona 24-hour sportscar race in January.

The teenager from Glastonbury is in Abu Dhabi this weekend after he was handed his Formula Two debut by Campos Racing. He qualified 14th of 20 runners at the Yas Marina circuit on Friday.

“2019 or 2020 is the goal and the most realistic aim to land a full-time drive in Formula One,” Norris added. “It is hard to say whether it will be with McLaren. Of course, I would want it to be, but they are happy with Fernando and Stoffel Vandoorne and it is hard to know what they are going to choose moving forwards.

“I need to respect the help they have given me over the years and what they can offer me if I wait. If they say in 2020 that they do have a seat for me then I have got to respect that. They have helped me, and taken me on as a junior driver, so I would wait one year to drive for them.”

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Rising star Esteban Ocon proud of Force India’s achievements

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Esteban Ocon.

Few rookies have enjoyed such a consistent start to their Formula One careers as Esteban Ocon – eighth in the drivers’ standings and scoring points in every race except two this season.

The impressive Frenchman has accumulated 83 points in the driver’s standing, lying just 11 points behind Force India team-mate Sergio Perez in seventh position.

The duo have finished within one point of each other on 10 occasions this season, with the Mexican generally getting the upper hand over the youngster.

But it hasn’t been all rosy, with Force India threatening to impose team orders on the pair following three incidents this season – the most notable of which was a double collision at the Belgian GP which cost them valuable points following the retirement of Perez.

“It was a tough time for me and Sergio. The team had to take a decision that was difficult at the time. In the end they managed it well for both of us,” he said.

“If you take only one driver we would be P4 in the championship. It really means we’ve been solid this season, even though we got fourth place in the end in the constructors’ championship.”

Force India may be the top team outside of the big three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, but Ocon believes they can challenge their rivals and finish on a positive note at Yas Marina this weekend.

“I think it’s very good for your mind to finish on a high and to go into winter break feeling like you’ve finished well. If you finish badly then you have to climb up in your mind,” he said.

“You’re always learning every time you go out in the car. I’m working to be the best. I will not stop working until I reach that goal with the team.”

The return of the French Grand Prix next June is welcome news for the Evreux native. Ocon was 10 when the race was last held at Magny- Cours in 2008, with Felipe Massa storming to victory in a Ferrari.

“It’s awesome news having the French GP next year. All tickets were sold in two days. Some of my friends tried to get them and they couldn’t get any at all,” he said.

“It’s really nice to know it’s coming back to France. I hope it’s going to be a great show and be one of the best races on the calendar.”

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