Felipe Massa, Williams, Sochi Autodrom, 2017

Williams unlikely to announce Massa replacement soon

2017 F1 season

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Williams is unlikely to reveal who will take Felipe Massa’s place at the team in the near future according to chief technical officer Paddy Lowe.

Massa confirmed last week he will retire from Formula One at the end of the season. That leaves Williams with a vacant seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018.

Lance Stroll, Williams, Interlagos, 2017
Brazilian Grand Prix practice in pictures
However Lowe said “we’re very unlikely to make a decision in short order” on who will take the seat. “We have a number of different options and we’ll take our time with that and let you know when we have an answer.”

Among the drivers under consideration are known to be Paul di Resta, who substituted for Massa at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, and Robert Kubica, who has tested for the team. Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein has also been linked to Massa’s place.

Asked on Thursday who he would like to have alongside him next year, Stroll joked: “I was hoping for [Lewis] Hamilton, but he’s not really available these days.”

“It’s completely up to the team,” he added. “My job is to drive my car and they’ll take care of the rest.”

Stroll said Massa has “been a great team-mate”to him. “He has a bunch of experience and he brings a lot of knowledge to the team.”

“I think we’ve understood a lot about the can and how to improve the car throughout the weekends and, for sure, he’s been a great guy to have in the team.”

“I think everyone’s really enjoyed having him at Williams and he’s had an unbelievable career. Many victories, many times on the podium, one point from winning a world championship, so definitely an ‘A’-plus career that’s for sure.”

2017 Brazilian Grand Prix

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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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  • 18 comments on “Williams unlikely to announce Massa replacement soon”

    1. I will always feel sorry that he never got his WC….
      Do u guys know if there is a website as great as f1 fanatic but about Formula E?

    2. January 2018:
      “Williams announce Felipe Massa to replace Felipe Massa”

      1. that was I thought :D

    3. I’m surprised Kvyat isn’t mentioned as one of the possibilities here. As I thought there was a page mentioning that they are considering Kvyat. Although he’s had 2 bad years, he has shown potential in 2015. And he then did look better than Wehrlein has so far certainly. He could easily turn things round. Di Resta and especially Kubica have just been out of F1 for too long IMO to be the best option. I still think Massa was the best option. I also keep hearing about Wehrlein being a possibility. But I think Massa has been a huge amount better than him over the past couple of seasons. Especially this year. Ericsson hasn’t been far off Wehrlein at all and many consider him to be about the worst on the grid.

      Out of the options that seem to have been discussed, I’d probably go for Kvyat as the best, then Di Resta, Wehrlein and Kubica in that order if the 1st one couldn’t get it.

      I don’t think Di Resta is quite as risky as I first thought. He has been part of Williams for quite some time now as well as taking part to cover Massa. That will have been some good experience. But he’s still basically missed out on the huge change to F1 made in 2014 with the hybrid engines. Just because Kvyat has had plenty of recent experience, I think he’s a slightly better option. I think Red Bull messed him up too much. His own fault to start with yes, but after that, they really were unreasonable with him. He’s still young and if he went to Williams and they turn out to be strong next year, I can see him getting a similar amount of points to what he got in 2015. Starting fresh with a new team and team mate could be just what he needs.

      With Kubica, IMO, he’s just been out of F1 for far to long to risk bringing him back. He was really good indeed at the time he was in F1, yes. But a gap of 7 years is huge! And for all he’s been through, I’m sorry to say I can’t see him being better than Massa when Massa has actually looked very solid this year. Massa has been a very reliable driver this season but has just suffered very bad luck indeed.

      1. I agree with almost everything, people said Nasr wasn’t good enough (and now Wherlein) just because they can’t have a clear superiority over Ericsson. But we saw Wherlein against Ocon last year and even being Ocon first races I can’t see Wherlein being so far off his pace, I really think if Wherlein was in Force India he would be performing as good as Ocon. Maybe Ericsson is not so bad at all and both Wherlein/Nasr isn’t bad options either. Nasr had a great first season and that put Ericsson in a very low rating position. Of course Nasr had many problems with Sauber in the second season but Ericsson clearly raised his game. Nasr performance in Brazil alone show me that he’s a better driver than half of F1 actual grid, he was the only driver with a performance compared to Verstapen on that race. He started on 20th and finished the first lap at 15th. That shows how good he was, and how good Ericsson is by being regularly faster or at the same pace of Nasr.

    4. Ericsson is not the worst. He has only a Sauber at his disposal. Kvyat has a much better TR and did almost nothing. But the real worst was Palmer. So bad you had already forgotten he drove this season.

      1. Kvyat hasn’t done quite as badly as it seems. Kvyat probably would have about 18 points if he hadn’t had the amount of bad luck he has. Almost all the races he scored, or was looking very likely too, he got taken out or had reliability problems. Such as Australia, China Monaco and Baku. Even Canada may have been possible to score a point or two if his car didn’t have the issue on the formation lap.

        I know 18 points is nothing like as good as Sainz, but it is heavily down to bad luck that he only has 5. Lets remember that he scored 19 times more points when he was at Red Bull. That car wasn’t that much better. Maybe when he goes to a decent team with a fresh start, he could repeat his much better performance. He’s still young and I don’t see why he can’t turn around. I think Williams may well be considering him to most but also doing a good job at hiding it now I’ve heard the Martini over 25 age limit isn’t an essential.

    5. Some split opinions within the team from what i’m hearing.

      Di Resta has impressed them with not just his simulator/development work since joining the team but also the way he conducted himself & the pace he showed in Hungary given hoe he had no time to prepare & hadn’t driven the car before. He also showed good, consistent pace in the test he did for them a few weeks ago.
      He is seen as the solid choice, Somebody that will drive the car to its capabilities, Give good feedback & score good points when the car is capable of doing so.

      The test Kubica did seemingly went a similar direction to his Renault test. He showed good (But not spectacular) pace on short stints but wasn’t able to maintain that over longer runs. There is also still a question on if he would be able to run every circuit & every scenario to the best of his abilities.
      He seems to be seen as the sentimental favorite, They know what he was capable of & everyone wants him to be able to do that again but there are still question marks & given where Williams currently are they don’t know if taking a gamble on Robert would benefit them given how much they could lose should it not pan out.

      Wehrlein is seen as somebody with potential, But given how he hasn’t had a competitive car yet there unsure exactly where he stands. This year has been difficult for him but in the Manor last year he did have some stand out performances although his attitude has soured some even if by all accounts he’s shown this year that he’s grown up a bit.
      There is some real interest from Williams in him but the feeling seems to be that since Di Resta is more of a known quantity to them if they opt not to go with Kubica they would be more likely to look at Paul.

      In terms of Kvyat I think the general feeling in the paddock right now is that he has pace & is capable of more than he’s shown since been booted from the main Red Bull team but needs to re-build his confidence by racing somewhere else as well as maybe doing some test/sim/development work for an F1 team before been put back in an F1 race seat. There is some sympathy for him but it’s felt that the way his confidence crumbled after been demoted back to STR last year is a barrier to hiring him to a race seat, If he can go away & find his confidence & grow mentally there is a way back for him & teams willing to hire him.

      1. @gt-racer I think this is the most correct assessment on all candidates so far. Di Resta is impressive with his single race, but no one really think he could outdrive the car like Hamilton or Alonso usually did. Kubica has lot of sympathy factor and he proven himself years ago… but it’s also years ago and objectively the tests shows he’s probably below average now. Werhlein attitude seems unliked and he not really performing this year and Kvyat still has mental issues he need to sort out first.

        Whichever driver Williams pick at the end, it will be bad for them because we can’t expect any of them to do better job than Massa (and probably will do worse) and Massa himself is not a great driver in his Williams career. The only thing I can 99.9% sure of is they only make 1 year contract and try to get Perez, Vandoorne, Bottas back, or maybe Raikkonen. Their position is weak though since those drivers will be only interested joining Wiliams if they dumped by their current teams.

        My guess actually it will be Jenson Button. He’s the only available driver that satisfy Martini age requirement, can develop a car, and can be expected to perform better than Massa. Paddy Lowe also already worked with him at McLaren. Biggest problem only the bad blood between him and Frank.

        1. Button signed a 2 year deal to be an ambassador for Mclaren. I can’t see him leaving to another team. But I still think he’d be better than most options.

          1. @thegianthogweed It’s won’t be straightforward, but usually teams are much more willing to end contract if that means someone can get a full season drive if they can’t provide one. Of course there McLaren could be reluctant if they perceived Williams to be their main rival next year or Jenson knows too much secret sauce for their 2018 car, which both of them I don’t think will be the case.

            I think many people in Williams believe it will be either di Resta or Kubica, but if they somewhat can get a deal with Jenson, they’ll take it in heartbeat… if Frank/Claire approves.

    6. I wonder how a Hamilton-Stroll line up would go.

      1. You must be kidding. Hamilton would destroy him. Massa has regularly been faster than Stroll – especially in races. Bottas showed a clean pair of heels to Massa. Hamilton has outpaced Bottas consistently – especially in races.

        I know that Stroll is a rookie, but one of the most remarkable things about Hamilton is that he started his F1 career against the best in the business – Alonso… and was immediately competitive. The only one who seems to be like him is Verstappen – who might be very dominant once Hamilton retires! (I have high hopes for Occon).

    7. well, yesterday Paddy Lowe was asked on German Sky if Williams will test Kubica at the Abu Dhabi test and he answered “Yes, almost certainly” but added that it brings a lot of attention so doesn’t wants to keep information within Williams quiet. asked next if they will also test Pascal Werhlein he answered that they are evaluating many drivers that are available, but didn’t give an answer of almost certainty as when asked about Kubica. It could be Kubica gets both days test. I strongly believe Nico Rosberg brokered a deal for a Kubica to drive for Williams next year, with big sponsorship money coming from Lotos, a Polish petroleum company who will also develop fuel for Williams. Kubica will also bring Olimp, a sport nutrition company from Poland. Lotos has already said if Kubica gets a seat, then they will sponsor.

      1. I meant “wants to keep any driver evaluation within Williams and quiet”

    8. Mercedes would have to fiddle the software to stop Hamilton beating their own drivers.

    9. Regarding di Resta, my guess is that one of the main things that has changed is that Mercedes are now offering him their financial backing once again.

      After his run at Hungary, it was clear that Toto and co were particularly impressed with di Resta’s performance level. And it would seem that Mercedes have realised that having a maturer and provenly talented driver on reserve could be just as valuable to them (in case one of their lead team drivers is sick/injured etc) as promoting another hit-or-miss rookie.

      I think that Mercedes now also recognise that Wehrlein has not ultimately exhibited the same level of ability as di Resta did/has in his career. And while they may still be willing to back Wehrlein, in terms of their preference between the pair, it’s more 6 and half a dozen.

      In this case I believe that di Resta’s media experience, the age-issue with the Martini sponsorship deal, and di Resta’s good favour within the team are the factors which are likely to turn it in his favour.

      A lot of ignorant comments are made on this website about di Resta. As someone who has followed his career very closley I believe he was/is, one of the greater talents of the last 5 years in F1: more than capable of running in a top team. The fact that Mercedes and Williams (who, after all, have the undisputable data at their fingertips) clearly still recognise this tells you everything.

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