Williams announce Massa’s return from retirement

2017 F1 season

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Felipe Massa has cut short his retirement plans and will return to racing in 2017, Williams has announced.

The 35-year-old, who announced his retirement from F1 at the end of last year, will start his 15th season of grand prix racing alongside rookie Lance Stroll.

“I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,” said Massa.

“I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve.”

The move paves the way for Valtteri Bottas to leave the team and join Mercedes.

“Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes,” said Massa.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula One campaign, it felt like the right thing to do.”

“I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40. The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I’m grateful for that.”

“I also look forward to working with Lance; I’ve known him for many years and seen his talent develop during that time, so I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

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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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43 comments on “Williams announce Massa’s return from retirement”

  1. Super excited about Bottas’ move, but dissapointed by this. There are better drivers out there without a seat, like Da Costa, Frijns, Lotterer etc.

    And if they wanted veteran, then Kobayashi would’ve been my number one choice. Heck, even Sutil or Di Resta would’ve been better options than Massa.

    1. None of the above mentioned drivers have driven a current hybrid era Williams…

      Di Resta is the exception, but as a test/reserve driver.

      1. I reckon they’d still be more useful for car testing than Stroll.
        From hybrid era Button would’ve been the obvious choice, but I guess he’s stuck at McLaren.

        1. Oh yeah i agree Stroll should have been replaced with someone else.

    2. Easily TOP-8 driver even in current grid

  2. First time since 2012 that Williams has the #18 pay driver and #19 Brazilian on the grid.

    1. Consider my mind blown. Well played sir.

  3. Stroll vs Massa, who will come out on top over the season do we think?

    1. Not sure that it is so much about Stroll vs Massa as what they can do together, given that they won’t likely be in a contending car. Sure comparisons will be made but in fairness to Stroll it is his rookie season…how much should we expect, at least with respect to competing against FM vs. learning how to compete in F1?

    2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      16th January 2017, 14:45

      Tough to say because Stroll is such an unknown quantity. From what I gather he’s fast but can be a liability. We know Massa is slow and steady so possibly two complete contrasts. My guess…. Stroll, just.

      1. Pretty much where I would go with that one. No doubt Stroll has some speed, even with all the help he has had in the lower categories he still needed to deliver. Never been a Massa fan and can’t say he deserves yet another season in F1. He is pretty reliable but these days in F1 that doesn’t cut it any more.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          16th January 2017, 15:01


        2. @tonyyeb
          An ACTUAL formula1 team says massa “cuts it”, enough so to pay him millions to do so.

          Don’t think anyone cares what some guy on the internet says.

          1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
            16th January 2017, 18:53

            He’s rubbish. No need to get upset.

          2. @xcm in your own words, I don’t care what some guy on the Internet says. So just cool it Felipe baby.

  4. One of the most poetic moments in F1 history has now been slightly belittled in my opinion

    1. It means nothing now… Nothing

      1. I disagree. It was what it was and the sentiment of it can’t be erased. Nobody expected at the time these circumstances that have seen his return and if he’s fine with it who are we to say otherwise.

  5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    16th January 2017, 14:39

    From August:

    ‘Claire Williams insists that Williams will have an “exciting line-up” next year, although she refused to confirm their drivers for 2017’

    Well I ain’t excited Claire!!!! A shame really because at that time a Button, Bottas partnership looked possible.

    1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      16th January 2017, 15:02

      Surprised Williams didn’t announce this at their 40th anniversary celebrations yesterday at Autosport. Wonder if they knew it was too underwhelming.

    2. Massa knows the old car, so he is a reliable metric for comparisons. And it’s not like Button would be a lot faster than him.

      1. What’s the point of comparing to the old car when the design is a complete clean sheet?

  6. Although I really like Massa, this just feels like the wrong decision. From a purely emotional standpoint I don’t like how it kind of devalues his big emotional goodbye last year, which is really sad because that to me was one of the strongest images of the whole season.
    From a more practical standpoint, while I can see they’ve chosen Massa – a driver who knows the car and team extremely well – I think now was the perfect time to give someone else a shot. Someone with experience but who never had a chance to show what they could really do, like Vergne or even Di Resta. I don’t see how Williams can stay where they are, let alone move forward, with this driver line-up. A waning but experienced driver who had already announced his retirement, paired with a reasonably quick-looking but very inexperienced rookie.

    It pains me to say it because Williams is probably the team closest to being my “favourite”, but I just think they’ve dropped the ball on an opportunity they could have come out strongly from.

    1. If they make a fast car they will have the results. I don’t know if drivers will have a big role this season, but in recent years they’re not what make a team go up or down, they are just a piece of the whole.

      1. That’s very true, however to get the maximum possible they need to have the two best drivers they can get, which unfortunately I don’t think they have.

        1. The question is, with a better driver in Felipe place they would beat Force India last year? I don’t think so. The difference to good and average drivers is pretty small these days.

  7. Yawn.. seriously Massa should stay retired.

  8. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    16th January 2017, 15:12

    “With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current constructors’ champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.”

    This is the competitive sport of Formula One, I don’t agree with this attitude at all. Always makes me think of that joke on SniffPetrol that Claire doesn’t want to win races because finishing 1st is just showing off 😂 😂 😂

    1. Surely there is more to it than meets the eye. (like an engine discount, for instance)

      1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
        17th January 2017, 18:13

        I’m sure Williams as a business will have done well out of it all.

  9. I love Felipe but I’m not sure about this. It felt right and I do think he’s past his best. But at least theres one more shot to win in Brazil.

  10. So disappointed. Makes it hard to cheer for the underdog team when they do this.

  11. When a team urgently needs a replacement driver they will naturally look towards the most dependable and least race-rusty driver available, assuming they don’t have any third drivers available. After Renault found themselves in such a predicament in 2011 they hired Nick Heidfeld who was exactly the kind of driver they needed at the time. However, at this time there aren’t really any Heidfeld-like drivers on the sidelines, the 2015 and 2016 grids were very similar meaning that any other “dependable” option would have been out of the car for too long.

    Massa is undoubtedly an underwhelming choice, his performances last year suggested nothing more than a driver who was clearly well past his best, however I can somewhat understand this decision.

  12. Massa going back to Williams is clearly all about continuity. Williams are not stupid – they would obviously be well aware of the various other drivers that were available. It seems clear to me that they highly valued his experience both in F1 and with their team, to develop this year’s car, get it well set up at each race weekend and guide the young rookie Stroll.

    I like Massa, even though others seem to love to hate him. Remember, he is the guy who very, very nearly won the 2008 WDC, and against Hamilton nonetheless. Whilst I don’t think anyone claims he’s still at that level, he was clearly pretty damn good in his day. I wished him well in retirement and I wish him well now. I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for him to change his mind, but if I was retiring and my employer came and said, hey, we’d really like you to stay (and presumably offered me a tidy little sum of money to do so) it would no doubt be flattering and tempting.

    The interesting thing for me will be later this year and into 2018. A year is not long in the gestation of an F1 car. It would be disruptive all over again if Massa were to retire at the end of this year. I’ll leave that thought hanging for everyone to mull over. :)

    1. @JungleMartin Good post. I think that Massa has been given a great opportunity: 5 million euros and the chance to actually beat his team mate before retiring again is a good deal. This year will be more crucial for development than 2018, and Massa should shine.

  13. We’ll only know whether this was a good choice or not after a couple of races. Massa suffered a lot with the regulations from 2010 onwards. Saving fuel and tires never really fit his driving style and I think THIS is the main reason he never came back to his 2007/08 form. Not Alnonso, not the accident. If the new tires will indeed allow drivers to push all the time without worrying about them falling apart and if they do become more temperature-efficient, than we just might find out that the the old lion still has teeth. I’ll wait and see.

    1. Oh that’s what i’m expecting (or hoping).

  14. if it was not the new cars I could say that all we would have is more of the same. But I think this season will have some surprises, it would be very interesting if Massa would be one of them.

  15. Welcome back Felipe. Very pleased with this news. Gives me a reason to watch F1 for another year.

  16. No, I am German and I am underwhelmed by this move as well. He is old and slow. Okay he’s Brazilian but that shall be enough to get a cockpit in one of only 20 F1 cars worldwide?

  17. Expected yet disappointing. Even for Massa I’m sure he tried to get the Mercedes seat instead.

  18. Massa has raced all the way against Villeneve, Schumacher, Haikonen and Alonso… and at some point he was very tricky for them all. That’s how it is. The ever best? Not really, but ask all those 4 champions if beat him was an easy task…

  19. Kinda have a feeling that at the end of the day, Massa is gonna regret this.

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