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Driver profile - Felipe Massa - A look at the Ferrari driver who worked his way up from karts

Published by Christine

This article was originally written for BellaOnline, but is republished here for posterity.

Name: Felipe Massa

Date of Birth: 25th April, 1981

Place of Birth: São Paulo, Brazil

F1 Debut: Australia 2002

Massa chose the well travelled route of rising through the ranks from early karting days. He started at age 9 and spent seven years karting before entering the Formula Chevrolet Championship in Brazil. He won the title in his second year, and decided to move to Europe to chase more challenging drives. In 2000, Massa won the Italian and European Formula Renault titles at his first attempt.

He joined Formula 1 and Sauber in 2002 and enjoyed a steady but unremarkable debut year. Sauber didn't retain him for 2003, and although there were talks with Jordan, Massa decided his best move would be to take a test drive role at Ferrari. He spent the season watching and learning from teammates Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, getting everything he could for that year.

It looked like his choice to test at Ferrari had been unsuccessful, when in 2004 and 2005, he returned to Sauber. However, a solid couple of seasons saw Ferrari call him back to the fold, and hire him for the next season.

Paired with Michael Schumacher, it appeared that Felipe would simply become the next Rubens Barrichello, the driver that backed up his teammate, but was never really able (or allowed) to have that much success by himself. However, Massa was determined to learn everything he could and soak up all the championship winning formulae from his mentor. He wasn't just another backup driver, but he was biding his time and increasing his knowledge with every passing race. It paid off with his first win in Turkey, followed by another in Brazil. He ended third in the championship.

In 2007, Massa was paired with Kimi Räikkönen. Whilst Massa should have been the number one in the team, effectively stepping into the retired Schumacher's racing boots, Räikkönen quickly proved he was no second driver. Felipe continued to remain confident, hard working and dedicated, though, and helped his team win both the driver and constructor championships.

The pairing continues in 2008, and Massa will be hoping to take at least some of the glory away from his teammate, in order to get some more wins under his belt. With the emphasis turning more to drivers rather than test drivers when it comes to developing the car, Massa can use his previous experience within the team to his, and their, advantage. With Michael Schumacher still on the pit wall, although his role is undefined, Felipe Massa appears to be gaining confidence all the time, and he is certainly a contender for the next World Championship.