Brazil's best: Massa retirement ends country's 48-season F1 run

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For the first time in 48 years, Formula One is set for a season that does not include a single Brazilian driver.

With Felipe Massa heading into retirement after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and no Brazilians signed to any team for 2018, a rich association with the sport will be put on hold.

Massa, who delighted his home crowd in Sao Paulo by finishing seventh at Interlagos on Sunday, is the last in a string of brilliant drivers from the South American nation that have competed since 1970

We take a look at F1's greatest Brazilian competitors over those 48 successive seasons.



Chico Landi, Gino Bianco, Nano da Silva Ramos and Fritz d'Orey featured in the sport's embryonic stages, with Fittipaldi ending a 10-season hiatus for Brazilians when he joined Gold Leaf Team Lotus.

The Sao Paulo-born driver claimed his first win just four races into his burgeoning career and two years later he was his country's first F1 world champion.

After being pipped to the 1973 title by Jackie Stewart, Fittipaldi switched to McLaren and regained the crown, though Niki Lauda stopped him from completing a hat-trick in 1975.

Though his F1 career petered out afterwards, the Brazilian went on to win the Indy 500 on two occasions.

NELSON PIQUET (1978-1991)

Piquet looked set to follow in Fittipaldi's footsteps when he lead the 1980 title battle by one point with two races remaining, but successive retirements enabled Alan Jones to take the glory.

The Brabham driver responded sensationally the following season, however, edging out Carlos Reutemann to finish top of the pack.

Another exceptional response to adversity came when he won the championship for a second time in 1983 having been classified in just four races a season prior, and he got a third taste of glory after a run of nine successive podiums in 1987.

However, he was soon to be overshadowed by a compatriot who would go on to achieve legendary status.

AYRTON SENNA (1984-1994)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest drivers of all time, three-time world champion Senna is fifth on the list of F1's most successful grand prix winners.

He took the top step of the podium 41 times in his 162 races and his tally of 65 pole positions has only since been surpassed by Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton.

Senna was part of a tumultuous rivalry with one-time McLaren team-mate Alain Prost, the duo accounting for six of the seven titles on offer between 1985 and 1991, but his relationship with the glamorous Monaco Grand Prix was far more loving – he won it a record five times in succession.

After moving to Williams in 1994 he met a tragic end aged 34 when he died following a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix, though he remains a figure of great inspiration for drivers in the modern era.


No driver has started more F1 races than Barrichello, a true stalwart of the sport.

Of the 322 grands prix that the Brazilian began, though, just 11 of them ended in victory – a fact largely down to his best years coinciding with the dominance of Ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher.

He became F1's youngest pole sitter when he secured the first spot on the grid for the 1994 Belgian Grand Prix – a record since surpassed by Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel – but did not get his first win until six years later in Hockenheim.

That provided one of the most memorable moments of Barrichello's career as he took victory in his 123rd race after battling through the field from 18th on the grid.

FELIPE MASSA (2002, 2004-2017)

Barrichello left Ferrari after the 2005 season and the Italian team opted to replace him with compatriot Massa.

In his maiden season with the Scuderia he became the first Brazilian to win his home grand prix since Senna in 1993, but he was pipped to the title at Interlagos in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton passed Timo Glock in the final corners to complete a dramatic title triumph by a single point.

Massa would never come as close to topping the drivers' standings, but he has proved to be a dependable pair of hands over the years.