'Old' Massa feeling reborn at Williams

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Felipe Massa is feeling thoroughly re-energised after his podium at Monza with Williams, a far cry from the gloom he felt when he ended his time at Ferrari.

"Rather than a rebirth I would say that it is a new life. Indeed, a new beginning," the 34-year-old Brazilian racer told La Repubblica this week.

Massa's third place in the Italian Grand Prix was hugely popular with the local fans thanks to the eight years he spent racing in a red firesuit for Ferrari. However, Massa doesn't regret leaving the team at the end of 2013, saying that my that point he felt stifled and sidelined at Maranello.

"Let's say I did the right thing at the right time. Two years ago, it was time to change," he explained. "Fortunately I did that change at the right time, and for the right team. Williams had just signed a contract with Mercedes and had closed the deal with Martini.

"My story with Ferrari was very beautiful, intense, sincere, like the applause of Monza showed. But it was time to feel important again."

The problem was that Massa always felt he was in someone else's shadow at Ferrari: first alongside Michael Schumacher, and then Fernando Alonso.

"In Maranello they saw me always like the little brother of someone," he admitted, conceding that part of the problem was that he had just been too nice.

"Many times I thought I should have been less kind. Been harder and more selfish. But then I find myself taking stock of my life - a lot has happened.

"I risked my life in Budapest, I was friends with a legend like Schumacher and a golden boy like [Jules] Bianchi, I went through two or three eras of the sport, I immediately saw injustice and filth of all kinds.

"I was forced to let pass by my teammate, and it was the worst time of my life, but I also won a lot and I especially enjoyed that. I fell often, but every time I got up it was always beautiful.

"I wouldn't change anything. I've always been myself - Felipe - and if the way I have been has caused me some difficulty, my strength allowed me to overcome them and become a better man and father."

For Massa the turning point came when Alonso arrived at the team, and Massa found himself increasingly without a voice in the team in the areas that mattered.

"Things changed when Alonso arrived. I looked around and saw that suddenly I had no power over things, on the details.

"Our sport is a matter of details, and you can change them only if you have power. That's what power is all about, and I had lost it.

"The most obvious symptom was just that I did not feel important. It was enough to make eye contact with the people around me to understand it. It was impossible to be happy.

"If you're not respected, you can not be happy," he added. "The money may have always counted up to a certain point, but now I'm running to be happy."

As far as Massa is concerned, Ferrari's devotion to one driver over all else was and remains a tactical weakness for the scuderia.

"The company was wrong to stake everything on a single driver. The team lives on points, and you need both drivers to bring in the points."

As far as Massa is concerned, that's the crucial difference at Williams where he allowed to race wheel-to-wheel with his team mate Valtteri Bottas. The Finn had himself been tipped for a move to Ferrari in place of Kimi Raikkonen, but instead the pair will continue their partnership for another season in 2016.

Underlying his renaissance, Massa will also take part in this year's Race of Champions in London, lining up alongside FIA Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr for Team Brazil. Massa will be making his first appearance in the end-of-year event in ten years. Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hülkenberg will also be competing during the weekend of November 20-21 at London's former Olympic Stadium.

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