Mark turned up at Interlagos with no entourage. It was just him and his physio, Rich. His partner, Annie, attended the United States Grand Prix last weekend, but she’s never been a fan of Sao Paulo and chose to watch Mark’s swansong from their home in the UK. Mark’s parents watched from back home in their hometown of Queanbeyan in Australia, where the race was on at 2am.
Unusually for Mark, he slept through to his alarm on race morning. He got up, did some skipping in his hotel room, answered some good luck text messages and headed to the track. Later in the day he drove a typically tenacious race to second place, before heading to the airport and flying back to the UK on Sunday night. Formula One career over.
Massa, on the other hand, was surrounded by friends and family all weekend. Interlagos is his home racetrack and he has lots of people wanting to join him in the F1 paddock – both family and friends. Felipe also likes to entertain when the racing’s taking place on his doorstep and on Saturday evening he invited Ferrari’s entire race team to his home for a barbecue, where he gave everyone a pair of flip-flops, each pair with a personal message engraved on it.
Come race day, Felipe was pulled from pillar-to-post by Ferrari’s marketing team because Brazil is a huge market for many of the team’s partners. Yet not once did he lose his sense of humour at these appearances, or his appreciation for everything Ferrari has given him.
“I have only driven with a Ferrari engine in Formula One,” he said. “I love everything about Ferrari and I will always love this team. I’m sad to be leaving, but excited about my future with Williams.”
There was a feeling of mutual admiration between team and driver. After the race everyone at Ferrari – even the guys working on Fernando Alonso’s car – wore t-shirts emblazoned with ‘Obrigado Felipe’, and once the freight had been packed and sent to the airport, everyone went to downtown Sao Paulo for a massive party.
And with that the 2013 F1 season drew to a close, Mark quietly contemplating life after F1 and Felipe partying with his former Ferrari employers. It’s been a cracker and we hope you’ve enjoyed our updates from around the world. You won’t have to wait long for your next F1 fix because winter testing begins in 59 days…