In just under four months after his “retirement”, Felipe Massa will be retaking his place on the starting grid at the Australian Grand Prix. But the Brazilian has admitted it’s “a little strange” to be back after bowing out of the sport.
His return was as a result of Williams Martini Racing team-mate Valtteri Bottas’ move to Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. This left Williams with a dilemma (and an empty seat), which was solved by a telephone call to the paddock veteran. And Massa has now spoken of how that telephone call was all that was needed to reverse his decision and “follow his heart.”
“It was a little bit strange for me because I had the most incredible end of the career, with the amazing feeling from the people in Brazil,” he told Channel 4. “And then I had a call from my boss – my ex-boss, boss now – Claire [Williams} just asking, saying, that the team needs me for one more year.
“I was a little bit surprised! But I would say my fans, my family, so everybody were pushing me a lot to do what I want to do, what my heart is pushing me to do, and I just followed by heart. I didn’t see any person that said ‘Don’t do it!'”
The Brazilian enthused about the upcoming season and was obviously ready to relish in the challenge once more. He was particularly excited about the introduction of the new regulations, comparing it to 2014 when Williams exceeded expectations.
“I just followed by heart, and I’m really motivated to carry on. We love this – to race, competition. I feel that I still fit and I’m ready to do another championship.
“I really hope that the car will be good. It’s new rules for everybody so I like that, because it’s something that can work well like it really worked from 2014 when everything changed so I like that. Really motivated.”
His comments were made before he’d had any opportunity of trying out the new car, in reality or in the simulator. But he was quick to add that the simulator is useful for giving you an idea of what has changed but is no substitute for driving the “real” car out on track.
“The simulator in truth is just so you have some idea, but you need to drive the car, you need to understand how it is, you need to understand the competition, you need to understand everything around the new rules – the aero side, the mechanical side. The simulator is just a little idea.”