“Popular” Massa left Formula 1 in best way possible – Rob Smedley

Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams

Williams Martini Racing‘s performance chief Rob Smedley believes that Felipe Massa left Formula 1 in the best way possible.

Massa had some tough but fair fights with former Scuderia Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso during the final two races of the season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, finishing level on points with Nico Hulkenberg in the drivers’ standings.

Smedley thinks that Massa was at his best at the end of the 2017 season, and it shows Massa’s character.

“Look how he’s finished, he’s finished absolutely on a high,” Smedley said to Autosport. “He’s had 16 years in this paddock, either being extremely competitive at the level where he was going to win a world championship, or being as competitive as he could be in the car that was given to him.

“To go out at the top of your game, still delivering for the team, still giving them points, still having that extra special lap in qualifying, there’s no better way to go out. He’s such a popular guy, and that’s a measure of him.”

The Brazilian first joined Formula One in 2002 with Sauber, making the move to Ferrari before the 2006 season started. After nine years with the team, during which he was famously close to winning the World Drivers’ Championship, he joined Williams.

Smedley also says that he personally will miss him on race weekend in the paddock, but the pair will carry on being friends.

“I’m going to miss him at work, but he’s my mate. Our wives are friends, our kids are friends, he’s like a little brother.

“He’s part of my family and I’m part of his family, that will continue, it’s not going to change anything.”

Williams is yet to announce who will replace Massa and partner Lance Stroll at the team next season.