Felipe Massa opens up on ultra-secret Ferrari deal

Felipe Massa drove for Ferrari from 2006 to 2013, becoming one of their most decorated drivers in history.

Felipe Massa’s Formula 1 career will always be remembered for coming so agonisingly close to the 2008 World Championship, where he looked set to become the first Brazilian F1 champion since Ayrton Senna.

Sir Lewis Hamilton’s famous last lap overtake on Timo Glock saw the Brit snatch the title away from Massa to claim his own first title.

Massa failed to reach the same heights ever again, with himself becoming a number 2 driver for the remainder of his time at Ferrari.

The Brazilian spent eight-years driving for Ferrari, becoming one of their longest serving and successful drivers in the process.

Massa completed 139 races, claimed 11 wins and 15 pole positions from 2006-2013.

Only Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen raced more times for Ferrari, highlighting Massa’s incredible service to the Scuderia.

It turns out though that the 41-year-old’s relationship with Ferrari started well before 2006, as Massa revealed all on his “secret” deal with the Italian team, which started in 2000.

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Massa was on Ferrari’s radar after winning the Italian and European Formula Renault 2.0 championship in 2000, resulting in the famous team meeting with Massa.

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As a result of the meeting, Massa revealed in the film Motorsport Heroes, that he signed an eight-year contract with the team as a junior driver.

Staggeringly, Massa was strictly informed to keep the deal a secret.

“I won the Italian and European Formula Renault 2.0 championship in the same season,” Massa said in a clip from the film.

“After that, many tried to get me under contract.

“A meeting was organised with Ferrari in Maranello. I didn’t know that at the time but they had been monitoring everything I had done: testing, telemetry, races, everything.

“Then they said, ‘Okay, we’re going to sign a contract with you as a young driver for Ferrari’ – which had never been done before – ‘but you can’t tell anyone. It has to be a secret’.

“So I signed an eight-year contract with Ferrari and wasn’t allowed to tell anyone! Just my family. That was incredibly difficult,” recalled Massa.

“Then I went to drive for Sauber, with Ferrari engines and then I got the call that Ferrari had decided to choose me. So in 2006 I was racing for Ferrari. That was a dream come true.”

The Brazilian’s debut season in F1 came with Sauber in 2002, who at the time used Ferrari powertrains.

His opening campaign resulted in a 13th place finish, this was followed up by a year on the sidelines as Ferrari’s official test driver.

Massa returned to Sauber in 2004 and 2005, finishing the seasons in 12th and 13th respectively.

His move to Ferrari in 2006 came as a result of Brazilian compatriot Rubens Barrichello leaving the team to join BAR Honda, Massa remained with Ferrari until 2013 where he then joined Williams.

Massa retired from the sport at the end of 2017, where he went on to venture momentarily into Formula E and other various championships.

He currently races in the Brazilian stock car championship.