History will repeat at Interlagos as it says goodbye to a favoured son. As he did 12 months ago, Felipe Massa will suit up for his last home race before departing Formula 1.
Last time, it would be a short-lived stint on the sidelines. Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement sent the driver market into a spin … when the music stopped, Massa found himself back in the seat he’d been vacating at Williams.
An early retirement had never been his Plan A, and Massa relished the chance at a 15th season at the top of the sport.
SOUNDBITE (English) FELIPE MASSA,
F1 DRIVER, WILLIAMS:
“Well, that's what I love to do. I have the opportunity to stay racing for Williams Martini and I really enjoy working with them and after Nico's (Rosberg) season stopped everything changed and I’m happy to be here, enjoying myself, having fun.”
But it’s been a tough year for the Brazilian.
There have been high points. On the back of a strong start to the year, Massa could have emerged the victor of a topsy-turvy Azerbaijan Grand Prix, but for a suspension failure that took him out of a winning position.
But the British squad’s 40th anniversary season has not been its finest, and the FW40 has slipped off the pace of its mid-pack rivals as the year went on.
Massa has scored less points in 2017 compared to this time in 2016, but his results have reflected his car … and he’s kept his new teammate, 19-year-old rookie Lance Stroll, well in check.
Yet Massa headed to the tail end of the season with a cloud over his future.
Williams tested Paul di Resta and Robert Kubica with an eye to 2018, while team personnel have admitted the newly released Daniil Kvyat is also on their radar.
So with Williams likely to drop him, Massa bowed out gracefully just as he did the first time in 2016 - ahead of his home race.
"My career in Formula One will finally come to an end this season," Massa said. "I take so many great memories with me as I prepare for my final two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. I am looking forward to ending on a high note."
With Massa having now made the call to retire from the sport, the crowds at Interlagos will again deliver him another rapturous reception, but there will be no encore this time around.