Born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Felipe Massa started like so many other Formula 1 drivers, in kart racing, and earned his first title at just nine years old. A move to single-seaters in 1998 led to a test driver spot with Swiss-based Sauber Racing, and onto a Grand Prix debut in Melbourne in 2002. A lackluster season resulted in Massa spending the next year testing for Ferrari, a move that would pay dividends in the future.
Massa returned to Sauber in 2004 and, paired with Giancarlo Fisichella, earned a 12 point season which placed him in the drivers championship. The 2005 season, teamed with former champion Jacques Villenueve, garnered lots of attention as Massa upstaged the champ several times. A turnover of Sauber to BMW ended his contract.
In 2006, Ferrari came calling. Massa was teamed with 8-time champion Michael Schumacher, and turned out his best season yet with 2 second-place wins in the U.S, and Germany. He followed this with his first top-of-the-podium win in Turkey and gave a repeat performance in front of a hometown crowd by winning the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Massa was partnered with Kimi Raikkonen for the 2007 season, but despite finishing 2006 ahead of Raikkonen in points, Massa found himself in the undesirable role of supporting his teammate.
Despite a shaky start to the 2008 season, which saw him without any points after two races, Massa turned things around. He earned the top podium position six times, including a repeat of his Brazil win. All this success catapulted Massa back to the team leader position for Ferrari.
Significant changes in Formula 1 rules for 2009 left Ferrari struggling for firm footing , garnering just one win during the season. Massa's season came to an horrific end when he was struck in the head by an engine part that flew off the car of compatriot Rubens Barrichello. Massa was knocked unconscious, and his car crashed deep into a tire wall. After being kept in a medically-induced coma for several days, he was later released to begin what would be a full recovery and return to Formula 1 in 2010.
Joined by new teammate Fernando Alonso, Massa turned out a winless 2010 season marked by the controversial decision to surrender his first-place position to Alonso in the German Grand Prix. The seriousness of the Ferrari team's decision, based on Alonso's higher championship points total, was made clear at the Brazilian Grand Prix when Massa received a warning that he could go to jail if he helped Alonso again.