Massa ‘signs deal to return to Williams’, opening door for Bottas to join Mercedes

2017 F1 season

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A report in the Brazilian media claims Felipe Massa signed a contract with Williams yesterday to drive for the team in 2017.

Massa’s immediate return from retirement will allow him to replace Valtteri Bottas in the team’s line-up so the 27-year-old can move to Mercedes.

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Brazil’s Grande Premio claims Massa took just a few days to abandon his retirement plans. The report also indicated Mercedes made unsuccessful approaches to McLaren for Fernando Alonso and Renault for Nico Hulkenberg.

Massa will partner 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll at the team next season. The veteran of 250 races announced his retirement plans three months ago at the Italian Grand Prix.

With Felipe Nasr yet to agree a deal to remain on the grid the news means there will be at least one Brazilian driver on the grid in 2017.

Massa’s remarkable U-turn came about after Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement from Formula One just days after he won the world championship. His unexpected decision left Mercedes without a team mate for Lewis Hamilton with just weeks to go until testing for the new season began and most drivers already under contract for 2017.

Bottas is connected to Mercedes via the team’s executive director Toto Wolff, who is involved in managing his career. He has spent his entire career to date with Williams. The team also uses a supply of Mercedes power units.

Mercedes has said it will not announce the identity of Hamilton’s team mate until the new year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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159 comments on “Massa ‘signs deal to return to Williams’, opening door for Bottas to join Mercedes”

  1. Nooooo!
    You didn’t announce retirement while on the next few days you’re back.

    1. If Williams is good Massa has everything to gain for, if Williams has a bad season he’ll say he came out of retirement for the good of the team. He wins in all cases.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        20th December 2016, 22:10

        He might ‘win in all cases’ (not sure though if beaten by Stroll), but we – and F1 in general -are losing out.

        What if Massa beats Stroll, but Williams loses against FI. How good a call was this for the team?

        Williams needs, and deserves, an ace driver who is at top of his game (and >25 to do some acting).

    2. Big, big, big mistake. Massa never set the F1 world on fire to begin with and now this makes him look pathetic.

      1. @wesley He was the 2008 world champion for 30 seconds…

        1. I thought he was a crap choice but thinking back to 2008 and how quick those cars were and 2017 cars will have a similar balance and possibly require a similar driving style.

          Let’s not forget 2008 was the first year that traction control was banned and Massa did alright. Maybe he has just been trundling around in the cars from 2009 onwards because they have been in fact crap…

        2. With massive help from FIA, by being in the fastest car and by having Ferrari mess up the sister car for Raikkonen. Besides, by now it’s more clear that Raikkonen also was somewhat overrated.

    3. It just goes to show the character of Felipe Massa or the lack of. If you were to read Brazilian press, you would know a very different Felipinho.

      1. @peartree, please enlighten us. What does the Brazilian press say about him, or what does he say to it, that we don’t know? And isn’t Felipinho the name of his son?

        1. @paulk, Felipinho is just a diminutive form of Felipe; as to what @peartree is referring too, I don’t quite know, as don’t read the Brazillian newspapers either (not good at Portugese).

      2. I didn’t understand it too. The Brazilian press actually speaks well of Massa.The most boring part is that the Brazilian press is stuck in the past when Brazil had great drivers. For instance, whenever you watch a Brazilian f1 broadcasting, you are likely to hear: “Massa once was almost the world champion.”… That’s so boring, completely uncalled for.

    4. sunny stivala
      21st December 2016, 6:21

      No problem with coming back from retirement in record time, there will be more tears at the end of it all.

      1. I don’t know who to feel sorry for the most. Williams, the fans, the sport, or Maldonado.

  2. Most boring decision ever if true. Kamui, as an example within many, would have been a much better choice either for Williams or MB.

    1. It seems not to be about outright speed or even pointscoring consistency. It’s purely experience and a reliable benchmark to compare this and next year’s car.

      As a Brazilian, I’d rather see him retire in style, but I think it won’t stain his reputation any more than his late Ferrari years with Alonso did.

      Now he is a veteran helping his team, not beggin to stay, but called to return. Not bad at all…

    2. I get Williams, I get Massa, but it’s a shame this is happening. Massa’s retirement is now meaningless, especially what happened in Brazil. Williams should have looked further, perhaps even at Nasr. Koba, Vergne, Buemi, Di Resta and Nasr would have been better options. But I actually hoped they could persuade Mark Webber for 1 year. Shame.

      1. I don’t agree at all that this takes away from the emotion that was felt by Massa and the whole pit lane of crews, not to mention we the audience, in Brazil. That sentiment is still there and he’ll receive a lot of hugs on his return and a lot again at his final final retirement, presumably a year from now.

    3. Yeah, boring and a little bit depressing. But on a practical level, Williams need a driver they know, they need a base line for development. They have to have known quantity. So……… fiar enough, but meh…..

  3. Sounds like someone has a contract clause specifying either Massa or Bottas as their team-mate?

    1. What are you on about?

    2. @gridlock
      I’m not opposed to speculations, but how and in what universe would that make sense?

      1. Stroll needs an experienced team-mate to learn from, which is written in his contract.

        1. And how is that enforceable? Who gets to decide who has enough, what is enough or who could teach him?? There are plenty of drivers, Alonso and Hamilton come to mind possibly Vettel as well, who don’t really feel like training a kid is remotely close to what they’d want to do. But they have great experience so would meet that vague criteria, which I’ll add comments section list and constantly reference but never once seen it in an article anywhere reputable.

          1. And how is that enforceable? Who gets to decide who has enough, what is enough or who could teach him??

            Presumably it means Stroll’s management team decide and if Williams don’t meet it, the contract is void and their 20 million goes elsewhere…

          2. How would a “No Senna” clause have been enforced? Prost had one. Stroll’s contract probably reads something like, “For the first year of this contract, Williams Grand Prix Engineering agrees to have as an active driver a driver who participated in all races during the 2016 Formula 1 season and also participated in all races during at least 1 (one) season prior to the 2016 F1 season.”

            The CRB has actual authority in the world of F1. You don’t have to race in F1, but if you have a contract with a team, there’s no direct way for you to break it, and you try to race for another team, good luck. Ask Jenson Button how well that works out.

  4. Wow, I’m so excited about Massa signing with Williams Grand Prix that I can hardly contain myself. Counting the hours until Melbourne.

    1. Agree. We have two unexpected and exciting teammate rivalries. Hamilton vs Bottas is easily the next Prost vs Senna and Massa vs Stroll… that’s just stuff of legends.

      1. Don’t forget €ric$$on vs Pa¥$mo$tmon€y$

  5. Thank you Massa!
    Big favor to Bottas.

  6. Kinda get why Williams need him but I can’t say the news excites me too much. Plus I feel it sort of cheapens the fairy tale send off he got at Brazil.

    1. he took the amazing farewell and throwed it in a trashcan. when he “retires” again i will simply not care anymore

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        20th December 2016, 18:45

        Very good points there. I agree with all 3 points. Too many people are saying Massa is a bad choice but that isn’t true. There may be drivers available that could maybe score points than Massa. But it could actually be the case that Williams think the experience and feedback is more important. Experience will be very impotent for the next season so Massa is a very good choice. Like you say, he clearly didn’t loose any interest in the sport. I believe he announced his retirement to make way for a new driver. But if Bottas goes, they need some experience and feedback to develop the car for the future and I bet Massa would do a much better job at that than a newer driver.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          20th December 2016, 18:51

          Sorry, I don’t quite know how this happened but my browser posted this reply above here that I had previously written and posted elsewhere.

          I was going to say that it wasn’t exactly a retirement that meant he had no interest in the sport any more. I believe the main reason he said he wouldn’t race in 2017 was to make room for Stroll. Now Bottas is very likely moving to Mercedes, since Massa said he still has a strong interest in racing, it was a good choice to race against Stroll and help the team with his experience. My other post also mentions the other positive things about Massa continuing. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that I accidentally posted it there too!

      2. Guess what, I’ll put money down on the fact he wouldn’t lose any sleep over an internet tough guy’s opinion. Doubt he wanted to retire but the seat that’s coming back to him was not available so it was a forced retirement. And yes, doubt we’d see the pit crews lining up for him in ’17. Unless he were to win at Yas Marina and drive off into the sunset. Then even the hardest soul couldn’t resist being moved.

    2. Well yeah it was a befitting farewell, crashing out.. Fitting of why he should not come back… Boring massa.

  7. If it is true….its understandable…..
    The formula is changing for next season….going back to aero…faster cars etc…the team essential is a experienced driver..or they could go the wrong way developing the car….and Felipe has the experience to deliver…and he works well with Rob Smedley.
    Some of the top younger drivers next year, in any team, may take a while to get to grips with the cars…..
    Its going to be interesting….

    1. Exactly. I would have done exactly the same point if I was Massa.

  8. Everybody is lamenting this news as if Massa was forced out of retirement or that he’s all done or that Williams are mad. A few thoughts:

    1. Massa made it very clear that he was leaving F1 because he couldn’t find a competitve drive. It’s not as if he lacked the passion anymore. If he wants to have another go, has a family that accepts his wishes and has a good team who wants him, why not?

    2. Williams are not crazy. It’s is too big a risk to have a driver lineup composed of either two rookies or a rookie and a veteran driver who has been away too long. They need someone who (a) put points on the table, and (b) can teach Stroll. Massa may be somewhat passed his prime, but he can do both things easily.

    3. Massa is not a bad driver. Yes, the Hungary scarred for life but he is a former vice-champion who, but for a few meters, did not win it all. So show some respect for the guy

    1. Williams has been satsifyed with the lackluster performance of Felipe for a while now. Whatever he brings to the table they clearly values it so good on them. They probably got a good deal for Bottas aswell.

    2. @eduardogigante, I guess you sort of win me over. I wasn’t very impressed by Massa’s driving this season, thought he got a good celebratory goodbye, and thus was a bit underwhelmed with the idea of him returning.

      Though I can see why Williams want to have one of their drivers as a well-known entity amidst the change next season brings, and I do appreciate them working to allow Bottas to move to Mercedes (also not a move I feel super enthusiastic about, but we’ll see), it just didn’t really feel like something to look forward to.

      But who knows, maybe Massa is at his best when he has something to reach for in a car – hence him being impressive early on against Schumacher, good in 2007 and 2008, but then with the 2009 car, Hungary, and coming back to be Alonso’s 2nd, he lost some drive to put it all in, showed he still had it in 2014, new at Wililams with a 3rd WCC class car, but then slacked a bit as the Williams refused to improve in 2015 and 2016. If so, and as a renewed team leader for Williams, perhaps he’ll give it all again.

      And he’s an entertaining, great and nice character to have in the paddock, so from that perspective it is a win!

    3. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      20th December 2016, 18:37

      Very good points there. I agree with all 3 points. Too many people are saying Massa is a bad choice but that isn’t true. There may be drivers available that could maybe score points than Massa. But it could actually be the case that Williams think the experience and feedback is more important. Experience will be very impotent for the next season so Massa is a very good choice. Like you say, he clearly didn’t loose any interest in the sport. I believe he announced his retirement to make way for a new driver. But if Bottas goes, they need some experience and feedback to develop the car for the future and I bet Massa would do a much better job at that than a newer driver.

  9. Double meh. Massa had an ideal opportunity to kick start his pizza business off-track rather than on it. Bottas at Mercedes is simultaneously underwhelming and annoying as we’ll be treated to the Wolff-favours-Bottas storyline all year whatever its basis in reality.

  10. This year was the perfect time to end his career. He was sub-par this season and now Williams want him back!?

    I know this is a unique situation but surely Williams could find someone else 25+ if that’s the problem. Massa hasn’t got the speed anymore. That was clear by the way Bottas trounced him this year, unlike before.

    This move strikes as ludicrous to be honest.

    1. It’s very logical, Williams clearly do not want two new drivers in the Team and would rather take the conservative decision for one side of the garage in 2017. Massa has the relationships, knows exactly how the team works and can focus on immediately getting the car setup for 2017 with Massa, leaving time to get up and running with the Rookie on the other side.

      It’s going to be hard for Williams next year, McLaren will probably step past them and Force India should be well set again for a competitive year.

      1. I agree they are in for a tough time next year. Losing Bottas is an huge blow and they haven’t got the comfort that Massa was still competitive this season because he clearly wasn’t.

        There were already doubts with how they will cope with this new aero formula given their cars have lacked downforce in recent years, and now with this line-up they could certainly drop like a stone.

    2. I honestly think the problem is that Williams couldn’t find a suitable mature driver – If Mercedes was having trouble getting an experienced driver into their second seat it’s got to be next to impossible for Williams.

      Williams isn’t in a position to poach a driver from any of the top teams and the back markers don’t have the experienced drivers they want – so it’s either go back to the well and hire Massa who is a known quantity or try to lure someone who’s been out of the sport for a bit. Given those options, Massa is the only real option they had..

      Personally I’d have liked Bottas to stay at Williams and Mercedes to hire Maldonado just to make things interesting.

  11. Surely Button would’ve been a better pick? He’s not doing anything either and has a better resume than Massa.

    1. Tommy Scragend
      20th December 2016, 19:32

      He’s under contract to McLaren though, so presumably there would have been a fee involved to release him.

    2. @n0b0dy100 you’re forgetting that Button is actually under contract for next season with an option for 2018. Although I think it would have been nice to see Button there, it was never really an option.

    3. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      21st December 2016, 15:49

      Does Button have a say in this? Because i’m pretty sure from his interviews and demeanour in Abu Dhabi he is done with F1. MAYBE Mercedes could have tried to woo him but otherwise why swap one midfield car for another?

  12. What’s sad for me is that Mercedes tried to get Hukenberg and Renault, understandably, didn’t release him. That’s really sad, poor Nico can’t catch a break.

    1. It’s also sad that the pinnacle of motorsport seem unable to fetch proper skilled drivers from elsewhere. To unretire a guy that decided on his own that enough was enough, isn’t right.

      1. Rosberg is the reason a trash can now exists. Do you think Massa or anyone saw it coming?

      2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        20th December 2016, 19:02

        Massa said he still has a strong interest in racing. He did not retire because he thought he’d had enough. He retired to make room for Stroll probably. And since the news of Mercedes wanting Bottas, Massa understandably would be willing to race for Williams again. I think he’s pretty much the best choice for Williams. What Williams seem to be wanting is experience and there is no doubt Massa has that. A lot of experience may be essential for next year because of the amount of changes going on. Another reason why Williams may have picked him over others is rather obvious. He knows the team as he’s been with them for 3 years. That will also help a lot. Because of his experience, he will probably be a lot better at giving technical feedback than other drivers which will help the team over the year a lot. Even though Williams could well have got a driver that could score more points than Massa, experience and feedback for their development may be more impotent to them. In my view, Massa is a great choice and is very understandable why they wanted him. Also, look at what they were willing to pay him. It is clear that they appreciate what he brings to the team.

      3. I agree.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st December 2016, 1:12

      @fer-no65 yeah, I would have loved to have seen Nico Hulkenberg move to the Mercedes and a general shuffle in the midfield.

      I guess it’s good that Bottas will at least get a chance to drive a top car. But I’m glad that Mercedes at least tried to get Nico and that shows that they had faith in his pace.

      Renault might not be that bad next year. Red Bull did well with that engine.

  13. Looks like the Mercedes Team had to settle for Bottas as a last resort, according to the Grande Prêmio.

    Hulk was their first option but the Renault team blocked him. They went to Alonso, but them he has blocked it himself, probably because the McLaren wouldn’t release him. Ocon then was blocked by FI. Sainz tried the move but both Mercedes and Red Bull weren’t interested in it. Then they had to choose between Bottas and Wehrlein.

    Massa contract with Williams apparently has a clause that says that he only will sign with them if Bottas really go to Merc.

    It is a shame for the Hulk, as we could finally see what he could do in a top car (and he would get rid of the record of most race starts without a podium).

    1. Massa contract with Williams apparently has a clause that says that he only will sign with them if Bottas really go to Merc.

      That’s why so many fans loved Massa.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st December 2016, 1:14

      I hope Renault can deliver for Hulkenberg… Very bummed out not to see him get the top ride. Maybe Nico can still go to Mercedes and Bottas can go to Renault? How is that for a joke to lighten the mood?:-)

    3. I wonder why no love for Perez, if Merc tried to get Hulk and even Ocon why not Perez as well?

  14. What a shame.

  15. I don’t know wether it’s good or bad news for Stroll.

    On the plus side his benchmark is somewhat lower and Massa will probably be more agreeable and act as a big brother to him, at the very least way more than what Bottas would.

    On the other side, nobody will be impressed by anything else than a quickly crushing display of superiority to Massa and God saves him if Massa remains faster than him throughout the year. With the latter‘s ups and downs in speed throughout the years, this is not outside the realm of possibilities

    1. I don’t think it is about a benchmark for Stroll, but rather just having a veteran there, as much for the team as for Stroll, vs. what having two rookies would have been like for the team in terms of progressing the car throughout the season.

  16. Sad to see people complaining about it. A one season encore is totally fine :D As long as he doesn’t make a habit of announcing his retirement :P Hope he has a wonderful year, all assuming the rumour is correct of course.

    1. @tristan

      The important difference is, is williams came begging… not the other way around.

      Massa has always been kinda unwhelming, but the man has heart!

      Viva Phillip!

  17. This explaines to me why RBR can be so succesfull depite having (only) the third best engine on the grid and still ending as second in the constructors championship. Ofcourse aero works for RBR, but the drivers add that needed spark.
    TR and RBR both have an exciting line up, all four drivers do have that extra that brings the sport to life.

    Williams must be the dullest team on the grid, respactable engine, respectable drivers….but the spark is missing completely. Bottas defeated Massa on all areas and the difference between team mates was never as big as it is at the Williams team. Bringing in a young Lance Stroll was promising and exciting… in a line up with Massa the team will have stability, but no upwards curve… 2017 will be ‘an in between’ year….. again.

    Massa pretty well felt his time had come to retire, best dicision ever… bring in some fresh talent, give Wehrlein a change in a better car… all options are better then having Massa return from his retirement

  18. +1, very true and great point.

  19. If this is true why are Mercedes saying they will wait until after the holidays as it’s a tough decision and now saying it could take until the end of February.

    No credibility at all with this organization.

    1. Yeah. I don’t know why they always had to announce something they knew it isn’t true and make stupid ‘clarification’ later.
      Pat Symonds leave. Lowe got dispensation of gardening leave. It’s all part of Mercedes move.

    2. Mercedes saying the decision could take until next year makes perfect sense.

      They really wanted Bottas and knew it would be a tough request to Williams. They knew Williams had to find a replacement for their leading driver and that might have taken longer (what if Massa said “no thank you”?).

      Instead of Merc/Williams answering the same questions day and day out they were able to release at least part of the pressure from press, by the estimated decision time.

      Note that it still may be next year until all contarcts are finalised.

      1. Not a very convincing argument as I see it but to each their own.

        1. My guess would be that the deal is done in principle but contracts have to be written up after normal negotiations, and there is no rush now that they know who is going where. They can have their relaxing Christmas break and then sit down with lawyers in January to formalize it. Once formalized they will formally announce things.

  20. Will somebody have an eye on Hulk? Poor dude might harm himself O.O

    1. Exactly! Both he and Alonso must be fuming right now.

    2. I think that after the last years, with Perez beating him, and specially shining on the Podium whenever there was an opportunity, we all know that either Hulk is not that special or Perez is a future champion that had a very bad year at a decadent McLaren

      1. Yeah but that is not what this is about. This is about Merc actually wanting to give him one of the four(maybe two) best cars for next year Renault cockblocking him.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          21st December 2016, 1:28

          @mrboerns yeah, it’s a bad way to start out. Unless Renault leads the field next year or Mercedes flops, they are starting out by destroying their driver’s career…

          If Hulkenberg had Rosberg’s luck, he would have won a WDC with a Sauber most likely on account of reliability issues for the top 10 leading cars:-)

    3. Poor Hulk, always so close but never there. There’s one thing though, would he be able to leave Force India had he signed a 1 year contract with them?

  21. He just needed a few weeks to pig out on fast food. Gain 20 lbs, sign contract, spend winter getting in shape…

  22. That’s disappointing. I hope Bottas is a hidden gem like Ricciardo was at Toro Rosso.
    If not, prepare for a Hamilton walkover to the championship.

    1. Yeah let’s first off see how dominant if at all the Mercedes are, then let’s see how Bottas rises to the best car by far that he has ever been in, and don’t forget drivers are coloured by their car. Virtually no WDC wins without the best car, so the judgement of Bottas starts next year as far as I’m concerned.

    2. I don’t think Hamilton will destroy Bottas the same way he destroyed his last Finnish teammate…. but this will be a notch down on excitement from the Rosberg-Hamilton pairing.

    3. Ruben…….

      ‘If not, prepare for a Hamilton walkover to the championship.’

      Doesn’t Toto Wolff manage Bottas? Just asking, as it looks like no one is factoring this in to the equation.

      (Yes, I know it is stated that he will give up managing Bottas to avoid a conflict of interest, but as of right now, he is and has been managing him).

  23. So this means Bottas to Mercedes. Great news and fantastic for Bottas. He shall give Liwes a run for his money.

  24. I can’t help but feel this is a repeat f when Ferrari kept him around too long. He’s a good driver, but I don’t remember a wow performance from him recently. As an overview, I’d say he’s not as fast or dependable as Bottas but will probably have another ok year. Williams are in a tough spot and I guess on reflection they’ve thought the money and Massa will be more helpful than Bottas.

    I have to say I’m a little underwhelmed by the whole thing. Rosberg’s retirement was a massive headline with everyone talking about who will get one of the best if not the best seat in F1.While I understand the decision from both, I feel Mercedes could have been bolder than Bottas and Willimas could be bolder than Massa. It’s just a bit “Meh” all around to be honest.

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      21st December 2016, 16:01

      It’s very meh. Bottas is meh also.

  25. Williams should keep Bottas and give Merc Massa’s number. You want someone experienced? You don’t believe in your own juniors? Take Massa!

    No. 1 rule of F1 these days: What Mercedes wants, Mercedes gets…

    1. @asherway, on the contrary, the fact that the article reports that Mercedes only went for Bottas because their efforts to secure their first, second and third choice drivers all came to nothing shows that this is a case of Mercedes not getting what they wanted.

  26. Bottas owes Felipe a beer.

  27. As he is my favourite driver I can’t be sad to see Massa back for another year. Next year brings a big chance, we shouldn’t written him off now. Better to have Felipe than a pay-driver who will never make an impression and be gone after one-two years and forgotten very soon. We have seen a lot of those people recently.

  28. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    20th December 2016, 18:21

    Absolutely gutted. This is so boring for F1 and a tragic situation for Williams.

    1. I’d agree with you if we knew that next year was going to be a repeat of 2016, but that is not an assumption we can make. The cars and tires are going to be completely different, so let’s see how the teams tank amongst each other, and how closely the drivers can race each other. It may be far from boring, and how this is a ‘tragedy’ for Williams is beyond me.

  29. Go toto, hammer time with bottas fantastic

    1. There’s some positivity for ya…good stuff.

    2. Yes, it is time for Bottas to show us what he is made of. I am pretty excited!

  30. Here’s my take on this, assuming what has been mentioned above is all true and I have no reason to doubt it.

    First off I’m satisfied that Mercedes tried for a proven top driver in FA to partner LH showing that they continue to be unafraid of a tough rivalry on the team. They are racers. Bottas seems the best they can do for 2017, and apologies to him for how that sounds.

    So, secondly, while it is easy to assume an LH cakewalk at Mercedes no matter if they are still dominant or not, an assumption I myself have already made on this site within recent weeks, perhaps let’s not assume anything since Bottas is about to be in the best car he has ever been in, and we all know drivers are coloured by their car. Let’s see what he can do. He’ll be ultra stoked. Of course in fairness to him he will naturally be on his hind foot as would even FA have been as the newbie on the team, so ingrained is LH.

    Here’s hoping LH is challenged if not on the team at least by RBR if nobody else. We should all be hoping that the changes coming see at least a small change in the order of things and more than a small change in how these drivers will be able to race each other.

  31. If we refrain from using our emotions (disappointment and/or boredom), it actually makes a ton of sense.

    Williams have a total rookie in the car next year that they planned to have alongside Bottas. Makes sense. The Rosberg retirement was a total game changer. There’s a saying used in pro wrestling a lot – ‘plans change’ (due to injury and other unforeseen circumstances).

    Massa was being bumped for a young guy with money. If Bottas wants to go to Mercedes, who on earth could blame him? Plus, bear in mind the connections he has with Wolff. It was inevitable.

    So who replaces Bottas?

    Well, how about the experienced guy who’d just left the team?

    You have to remember, guys, they’re clearly after someone who’s very familiar with current F1 (even if the rules are changing next year), so going for a Kobayashi or di Resta who have little to no experience with the current engine formula is out of the question.

    I get it, it’s a disappointment for many reasons. He retired, it was a great send off, and there’s plenty of youngsters chomping at the bit for a go. But how can Williams measure their car’s competitiveness with two rookies? Also factor in the imminent arrival of Paddy Lowe, who’ll want reliable data from an experienced driver to help push the team forward for 2018.

  32. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    20th December 2016, 18:57

    The worst part is that an aging, past it Massa is gonna make Stroll look half decent.

  33. Does this mean he has to give back the car Williams gave him? Or can he expect another one when he retires again?

    1. Hahahaha!! Good point!

      1. I’d put this on the contract: keep the car, and also get next year’s brazilian grand prix chassis. Ehheeh

    2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      21st December 2016, 16:05


  34. Lol, who knows… Maybe Williams find a loophole and Massa wins the title.

    1. @jureo what a great thing that would be. After Leicester winning the Premier League last year, Massa winning the 2017 title is not as crazy as it seems :)

      1. After Button in 2009, anything is possible

        1. True that

  35. I understand Williams wanted either Bottas or Massa for their experience in the current car development (and to help with rookie development).
    I would have liked to have seen them pick another driver (be it from a different team/series) AND have Massa back as a test/3rd driver.
    So they can still had the experienced driver in the wings and aiding development (take part in some winter testing sessions, maybe a few early season FP1s). But then doing that may also hamper track time for the new drivers.
    Or it could be Massa felt if he was to return, it would be all or nothing.

    Plus with Mercedes attempt to get a driver, resulting in the new driver having to change plans to integrate into a new team, and leaving a seat empty for the other team to scramble for a new driver; for Williams to get a driver from another team would pass along the trouble onto the next driver/team down.

  36. Man, Hulkenberg must be going crazy signing on with Renault and getting approached after by Merc, thats got to be tough!

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      21st December 2016, 1:35

      Yeah, he has to stay with the team that scored 8 points last year instead of the 800 that Mercedes scored… It’s brutal.

      How do you send him out next year to score 1 point?

      I almost wish they could have loaned him for 1-2 years like they do in football/soccer or worked a deal where they could re-sign him later on at a discount.

      1. Renault need him right now… Same deal goes for Alonso and Vettel … Only RBT can spare a driver since they have plenty…

  37. You do realize that the cars next year will have significantly MORE grip next year…not less. Wider tyres providing more mechanical grip and a lot more aerodynamic grip.

  38. I think the decision to have Massa back by Williams is a little ‘safe’ but understandable. I think they have done an appraisal of the situation and decided that the savings on the engine supply are worth more to them in terms of the car’s development than perhaps the conservative driving of Massa. It’s only for one season anyway I imagine.

    I would have liked to see Button return but he seems to have lost interest in F1 completely for now and he was under contract of course. I also feel quite sorry for Hulkenberg. Imagine him flogging the Renault around the tracks next year when he could have been in the Mercedes!

  39. Happy for Bottas, he’ll be a good number 2 driver, but not excited to see the perfect number 2 driver return.

  40. No one has mentioned the actual reasons why Williams MUST employ a veteran driver – Martini requires an older driver for their liquor promotion – 18 year old Stroll is too young – and Stoll’s contract probably specifies his team mate be an experienced driver. An older driver is expected to beat to a young rookie – another young(ish) driver beating Lance would not be good for his debut year.

    So, welcome back, Felipe! We missed you. For a couple weeks.

  41. Can’t believe this is happening.

    Welcome back Felipe!

  42. VERY good news; … we lost a spoiled child and (re)gained an actual adult.

    Massa is the definition of “gentleman driver”, and I am truly glad he’s decided to stay in the game. With some luck, maybe the Gods will smile on both Williams and Massa next season and they’ll hit the right combination. Wouldn’t THAT be sweet?

  43. Massa displays the heart of a true racer, Nevertheless “announcing his “retirement” seems like a move borne of frustration rather than a career denouement. With such short attention spans today, he is probably known by the average fan more for his recent rather stagnant performance at Williams than any of his past glories, not the least of which was grasping the World Championship trophy for just a moment in Interlagos (before a storming Hamilton passed Jarno Trulli and destroyed his chances).

    Massa probably wanted to jump the F1 ship in order to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond; eg. IndyCar, NASCAR (gasp) or prototype. For now I’ll call it the Zanardi Effect.

    The point of my post, however, is actually to rain on Rosberg. In my opinion his whole existence in F1 was to beat Hamilton; a lifelong frustration and embarrassment. I think Bernie said it best; “Rosberg is a World Champion but nothing more.”

  44. In other F1 news, Williams Technical Director Pat Symonds is to leave and Mercedes technical boss Paddy Lowe has been linked to the job (ESPN: Laurence Edmondson). The full deal would seem to be:

    Bottas to Mercedes and in return Williams get Paddy Lowe’s technical know-how, a special deal on Mercedes engines and in Massa, continuity between 2016 and 2017.

    Who got the better deal, Mercedes or Williams? :D

  45. Fans are not the only ones disappointed with this – as referenced by Webber’s tweet yesterday, asking for “hungry” WEC drivers to get a chance – which was never going to happen as we all know.

    I 100% give Massa all the credit for his fully deserved near-title in 2008, but beyond that – his good days are quite exceedingly few and far between.

    At least now he gets one more chance to out-qualify a teammate at Montreal, one of most driver skill-dependent track on the calendar. That would improve his record to 1-13 there.

  46. So much potential for interesting cockpit changes, such a boring outcome.

    Ah well, at least Pascal didn’t get a promotion he didn’t deserve.

  47. Would have loved to watch Pascal Wehrlein catching the WDC. Valtteri Bottas is maybe a bit more bland but I still hope he will catch it in style.

  48. ColdFly F1 (@)
    20th December 2016, 22:32

    That brings us to Bottas & Mercedes.
    How does that work? With Vettel and Alonso potentially available in 2018, assuming Mercedes still has a stellar car, they cannot promise the 2018 drive to Bottas.
    Thus Bottas might find himself without a car in 2018!

    1. Tommy Scragend
      21st December 2016, 11:05

      Massa can retire again at the end of 2017 with another schmaltzy stroll (no pun intended) down the pit lane at Interlagos, then Bottas can go back to Williams and leave the Merc seat open for Vettel.

    2. Agreed, he is being sacrificed

  49. I can only hope this all comes back and bites Merc in the @$$.

    1. It will. Bottas is no match at all for RIC, VES, RAI and VET. And his career will end at the end of the season as Mercedes get the driver they really wanted..

      1. I guess we will see, but I believe that Bottas is in that sweet-spot career-wise where he has nothing to lose and he can give it all to raise his game. It is On!

  50. I was just wondering how many ex Ferrari drivers have come back from retirement Schumacher, Massa, Raikkonen, Lauda, Prost?, not too sure about him, is there any missing or another team that has more drivers come back to another team after leaving F1

  51. What’s so hard to understand? Considering the massive rule changes, Williams want to keep a 2016 driver in the 2017 car so they don’t have yet another variable to deal with when trying to evaluate what works and doesn’t. Having two drivers that were not in the 2016 car, no matter how good, won’t allow them to properly make performance comparisons on car changes or get accurate driver feedback to make those comparisons. It’s pretty simple. Either Bottas or Massa are a ‘must have’ for these developments.

    1. Pretty-much the reason why Toro Rosso said they kept Kvyatt on for 2017. Purely a rational, cold-light-of-day no-nonsense decision as to who they wanted in their car….

    2. good common sense.

  52. All love to Felipe, but really Williams seem determined to boldly stride into ever newer horizons of irrelevance as a racing team.

  53. I sort of understand, but i don’t. i just think this is slightly short sighted from Williams.

  54. There’ll be some epic battles for 12th place next year with Alonso and Hulkenberg. If Massa’s still phoning it in, he can join in too!

  55. The Hulk just can’t catch a break. Had he stayed at FI, it was more than likely they would have let him go, had Mercedes come knocking. FI gets free engines and HULk gets a top seat to show his skills. Instead, he is stuck in Renault, who I don’t think will be competitive in the next 2 years. Gutted for him. Poor Hulk. Every dog has his day. When is HULK’s day?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st December 2016, 10:00


      He wanted to go to Renault. He is now at Renault. He at leased got one thing he wanted. Even if since the Mercedes option would have been something he would have much preferred, that came too late as Renault will understandably want to keep him. It does seem more understandable that a team would want to keep him if he’s just moved in from different team. As they haven’t even had 1 race from him yet!

      Anyway, who would replace Hulkenberg at Renault if he left? They really could do with a very experienced driver. At leased Williams pretty quickly came up with a deal that they would release Bottas if Massa returned. Which is now a done deal.

  56. This blah blah blah regarding age and speed of Massa is quite narrow-minded. I see that story this way: Once time in a galaxy far far away some old wise man called Schumi’s quit, because he saved a young boy from Brazil called Massa, now mature and wise Massa saves Bottas. End of story. That’s Karma. Nice one from Massa, live in glory Bottas.

  57. So many talented young drivers… I guess they wanted an experienced one. I can understand Williams since Stroll is a complete rookie.

    But I never liked Massa. I don’t share his vision of motor racing (remember in 2008 when he complained about the ban of traction control, saying it was dangerous without it…), and I strongly disagree with him when he claims he deserved 2008 title (he made pitiful races that year, in Silverstone for example).
    He was always complaining about something: the other drivers, the car, the track, the grass, the rain, the absence of rain, the spectators, the birds, etc. Very unhappy to see him back.

  58. Part of me thinks Massa mentally checked out through last season. Is he gonna be able to refind the desire and the need to compete again. Would it not be better to find a younger, hungrier driver who can fire up Williams. One thing that bugs me, its not just Williams either barring Red Bull whats the point of spending and developing young driver programs if they don’t give them a chance

  59. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    21st December 2016, 10:23

    Why are there so many people being so miserable about Massa? If he wasn’t good for the team, William’s wouldn’t want him.

    His experience will help the team hugely. E.G, giving technical feedback to help develop the car over the season is probably something he will do a fair bit better than drivers with much less experience. He also knows what the car was like when it was very competitive so that will help too. Even if there may have been drivers that could score a few more points than Massa, I think they value the experience more. I’m sure it will just be for one year and Massa will probably be able to help give feedback to help develop the car over the season much better than drivers with less experience could.

    He still has had plenty of good occasions this year that there is no reason why he can’t repeat them next year. He was the only driver on the entire grid to score points in all of the 1st 6 races.

    Williams clearly must want him back if they are willing to pay him that much. That obviously appreciate what he brings to the team. It will also be good to have an experienced driver to help Stroll.

    People need to understand that since it was Williams that wanted Massa, there really wasn’t a better option in terms of a driver that is experienced, that knows the team well, and is over 25. (that relates to their sponsors) So can’t everybody just accept that that is what they wanted and was the best and easiest option for them?

    I’ve also seen too many people say that he said he’d had enough and wanted to retire. If he said this, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. There are things all over the place that makes it clear that he still has a strong interest in racing this year. Whereas Button made it very clear that he didn’t want to race in F1 in 2017. I’m pretty sure Massa stepped down because he knew he would have been forced to to make room for Stroll. If he knew Bottas would leave and that Williams would really appreciate him staying, I’m almost certain he’d have been happy to stay and driver for them for another year. But it was just that the possibility of a seat at Williams happened late as it was only recently that Mercedes were trying to get hold of Bottas. Now he knows that that is quite likely to happen, he’s got the chance to race again with a very decent amount of money given to him too. We don’t actually know how well he will perform next year but there is obviously something Williams like about him. He may surprise us.

    1. ColdFly F1 (@)
      21st December 2016, 13:58

      He also knows what the car was like when it was very competitive so that will help too.
      Why didn’t he use that skill in 2016? @thegianthogweed

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st December 2016, 14:10

        I don’t quite get what you mean. He often did say things that could be improved this year and he could well have been basing that on the fact that the 2014 car was much better in those areas. We don’t know if some of his feedback this year may have been helping then develop a better car for next year. It’s not like other teams haven’t been trying as hard this year and their focus is towards 2017. Williams often haven’t been very well prepared for the season in the last few years so it would be good if the reason why their performance hasn’t been as good this year is partly because of them focusing more on next years car. Renault have been like that. I know Massa hasn’t performed that well this year but he’s been nowhere near as bad as people are making it sound.

  60. Nooo, one more year nooooooooooooo, there s a million drivers to choose out there

    1. Indeed…. What a waste

  61. Gutless gutless gutless.

    What is the point of developing young drivers if you’re not prepared to put them in the seat of your car.

    RBR are still the only team that does – they chose Ricciardo over a host of so called top experienced drivers when they had a spot open up, and then backed up that call with Kvyat, the Vestappen.

    Shame on you Mecedes – show some fortitude and put Wherlein or Ocon in the seat.

    Shame on you Williams – hang on to your best driver – if you really must let him go, grab one of the Merc youngsters – I doubt you’ll have develop a car competitive enough for the top 3 anyway.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st December 2016, 11:51

      Isn’t it clear that Williams want an experienced driver for several reasons. They haven’t made a bad decision at all. Their sponsors require them to have at leased one of their drivers being over 25 so they couldn’t take one of the Mercedes youngsters as you are saying.

      Mercedes want somebody who is more experienced than Ocon of Wherlien. Ocon hasn’t even had close to a full season in F1 yet and it was quite obvious that they didn’t want Wherlien. He has prooven to be hard to work with at times. Earlier this season when he had a technical issue, Manor were telling him it was critical to turn the engine off and he refused even though got asked about 10 times. He eventually did but it took a fair bit of persuading. I think Mercedes will want Bottas as he’s far more experienced and at leased he does what he’s told. There isn’t a much better option for Mercedes than Bottas out of what is now possible so Williams bringing Massa back is the best they could do. Massa wasn’t bad all season and he experience from his long career and his previous 3 years with Williams will help the team a lot. I don’t see anything wrong with Massa coming back. They wouldn’t be willing to pay him so much if they didn’t appreciate him being there.

    2. Totally agree. The whole of F1 loses. Shame on both teams for lack of imagination and guts. What a mediocre decision.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st December 2016, 12:35

        Sorry, but this is just getting silly. The teams will have a good reason to go for who they have and they will know far more about the drivers than we ever will. Williams have a good reason to hold onto Massa. He’s experienced, knows the team, is over 25 which the team’s sponsors requires at leased one of the drivers to be and he also isn’t that bad. He had plenty of good moments this year.

        At the moment, Bottas is about the best possible option for Mercedes. They have made it pretty clear that they don’t want Wherlien. Read my points in my post above and that is probably a good reason why Mercedes don’t want him.

        1. What is silly is Williams letting their best driver go.

          If they’re serious about being one of the “major” teams than they need to keep their best driver (one who is quite possible in the top 5 in terms of talent).

          Why on earth would they “do Mercedes a favour”? They are competitors not allies.

          As for Wherlein – if Mercedes thought so little of him, why have him rack up all those testing miles in their car – they know he’s quick, they know he’s driven and their management knows how to reign in their drivers temperaments. He also has one of the highest mileages on the new Pirellis. They just lack the fortitude to go with him (or another young driver).

        2. What is silly is that Massa got outqualified (on average!) by Bottas by 0.285 sec. Lets get that guy back from retirement because he is so experienced! Never mind performance or performing as a team.
          As for Mercedes: in Baku Bottas showed to be unable to perform in traffic. He admitted he got caught out since ‘there was so much happening around me’. Well, at least they have HAM so less of an issue for them as they roll up there sleeves to get ALO, RIC, VES or VET next year. Bottas will have a tough cookie this year to hang on to his career in 2018

  62. Oh, noooooooooooooooooooo…. what a waste of a F1 seat. Clearly devaluating the entire sport. I am ashamed to be a F1 fan today…

  63. Somebody should explain to me what the difference is between taking on Bottas and taking on Wehrlein as a replacement for Rosberg. Neither have driven for a top team. Both have limited experience on developing a top car, both are hunger for wins and podiums. Both are (I’m assuming) quite fast, neither are a match for Hamilton, I mean I could make this list endless. What is so special about Bottas that they do not expect from Wehrlein.

    Being quite frank here Toto is meddling himself too much into it I think.

    1. Joakim Jarnstrom
      21st December 2016, 16:39

      PorscheF1, please compare all F1 achievements and stats between Bottas and Wehrlein. Do you see the difference? Bottas is a well proven F1 driver in his prime, Wehrlein is not, even if he has potential.

    2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      21st December 2016, 17:11

      I think it might be something to do with how hard Wherlien is to work with. I’ve heard that many other drivers are better than him for that. Anyway, Bottas is more experience and has been in a car that was very good and near the top. Bottas also made less costly mistakes than Wherlien did last year. He also didn’t make any of the small rookie errors that Wherlein did. Bottas is extremely consistent and There is clearly something that Mercedes do think it better about Bottas than Wherlein. I don’t know if this is related but Wherlein hasn’t been that good at following team orders this year. There was one occasion where Wherlien spun off in practice and his team said it was critical to turn the engine off. He just kept arguing with the team even thought they asked him to turn it off nearly 10 times. He just kept refusing until he realized he couldn’t do anything. He MUST pay attention to his team. He may be good at test driving for Mercedes but they may not want him if he refuses team orders. Bottas at leased does what he is told. I’m pretty sure he will be better than Wherlien as a driver too and I think Mercedes will be thinking that too.

      They know more about the drivers than we ever will so there may well be something special about Bottas that they have noticed that we don’t know. Since Wherlein was available ages ago, he would have been really easy to get hold of. But they have made it pretty clear that they want Bottas as they actually would have got him by now if it wasn’t for the fact that Williams refused the first offer. Now Williams have got Massa and they are happy to let Bottas go, there is almost no doubt that Mercedes will now go for Bottas.

      1. Valtteri Bottas and Pascal Wehrlein would make a fine lineup for Merc, would like to see that. And unless there’s a huge surprise with the machinery in 2017, they would surely get #1 and #2 for the WDC. Not sure in which order.

  64. I truly don’t believe Mercedes is losing anything with Rosberg’s retirement… He wasn’t as fast as Lewis, but he did know a few dirty tricks, which if he had pulled driving for a team I was running would have sat him out for several races… I think Bottas will be a great addition to them and give them a capable hand when Lewis finally decides to retire. And I can’t think of anyone I would rather see at Williams than Felipe Massa for many reasons… Now, if only Jensen could find a fast and competitive ride, we would have a great field next season….

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