Felipe Massa will be a Williams driver next season, the team have announced today.
The Brazilian will partner Valtteri Bottas, who is retained by the Grove-based outfit for 2014.
This announcement leaves no room at Williams for Pastor Maldonado, who is expected to take his vast sponsorship purse elsewhere, possibly to either Sauber or Lotus.
Massa leaves Ferrari after eight seasons with the team as a race driver, and has 11 career-race wins to his name. As new boss Sir Frank Williams points out, the 2008 championship runner-up brings some important experience to the team.
“We are delighted to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up and welcome Felipe into the Williams family,” said the Williams founder and team principal. “He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track; he also brings a wealth of experience as we begin a new chapter in our story.”
Sir Frank also commended Bottas, highlighting the Finn’s third-place in qualifying at the Canadian Grand Prix: “Valtteri is a valued member of the team and I’m pleased he was able to demonstrate his talent in tricky conditions in Montréal. There is much more to come from him.”
Deputy team principal Claire Williams echoed the sentiments of her father and hinted at more news to come.
“It is very exciting for us to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up as part of a number of announcements we will be making over the coming weeks,” she said. “Felipe has demonstrated his talent and speed over the years, as well as his ability to help motivate and drive a team to championship success, and we are extremely pleased that he will be joining us as we embark on our 2014 campaign. Valtteri is an exciting, young talent who has done a solid job for us in his rookie season and we are looking forward to giving him the equipment he deserves to show just how good he is.
“This announcement is a key step towards our goal of returning Williams to the front of the grid, and part of our on-going plans to ensure we are stronger in 2014 and beyond. The stability of having both our drivers on multi-year contracts, Mercedes-Benz as our engine partner and a strong commercial base all contribute to the future success of the Williams F1 Team.”
Massa pointed out the historical links between his home country and his new team, and previewed the challenges ahead of them both in 2014.
“Williams is one of the most successful and important teams of all time in Formula One,” said the 32-year-old. “When I was a kid, I always dreamed about racing for Williams, Ferrari or McLaren and I’m glad to be signing with another icon of the sport following my time at Ferrari. It is also nice to remember that some of the best Brazilian drivers raced for Williams and cemented a strong national link with the team.
“With such a major change of regulations in 2014, I hope my experience will be useful in helping the team in its effort to move on from a difficult period. Since my early days in motor racing, I don’t remember seeing so many new rules in a single season and I’m fully prepared to work with everyone at Grove to make sure we find the right direction. I’m highly motivated to start working hard from the very beginning in what is an exciting new challenge in my career.”
Bottas thanked the team for showing enough faith in his abilities to extend his contract for another year, and is also looking forward to the change in regulations coming next season.
“I’m very happy to be staying with the team as I embark on my second season in Formula One,” he said. “I have known everyone here for many years, firstly as a test driver and now as a race driver, so it feels like home. I have faith in Williams and I know we can do so much better in the future than our current performance shows.
“I am looking forward to having Felipe as my teammate. He is a quick and experienced driver and together we will be pushing to the maximum to improve the car and get as many points as we can next season. We will be working throughout the winter to ensure we are ready for the challenge of 2014. I would also like to thank everyone at Williams, especially Frank, Claire and the senior management for their on-going trust in me.”