Despite an emotional farewell to Formula One at this year’s Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Williams Martini Racing driver Felipe Massa has apparently accepted a provisional offer to return to the team for next season.
Motorsport.com has learned that the Brazilian driver has decided to go back upon his decision to retire and will partner eighteen year old Lance Stroll in 2017.
If the deal is finalised, this will allow Williams’ Valterri Bottas to move to Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, as it has emerged that he is the prime contender for earning the seat of the now retired Nico Rosberg.
Williams felt the need to sign a driver over twenty five to partner Stroll, mainly due to their affiliations with Martini, with the alcohol firm unlikely to want too young drivers in their line-up. The team also want to have at least one driver with experience of driving in Formula One, as they didn’t wish to run a team with two rookies, or one with very limited experience such as Pascal Wehrlein.
Whilst this deal would free Bottas to move to Mercedes, chairman of the team, Niki Lauda, has commented that the decision would not be made until the new year due to ‘difficult discussions’.
Deputy team principal of Williams, Claire Williams, had previously commented that Bottas would only be allowed to go if an experienced replacement could be found – a description that Massa fits.
“If we did allow Valtteri to leave, we would only do this if an experienced, credible alternative was available, such as someone like Felipe Massa, for example,” she commented.