Massa makes U-turn on retirement to replace Bottas in 2017

Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Saturday 26 November 2016. Felipe Massa, Williams Martini Racing. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image _31I6699. Credit: Williams Martini Racing

Williams Martini Racing have today confirmed Felipe Massa will race for the team again in 2017, after retiring at the end of last season, taking the place of Valtteri Bottas who has been released to drive for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in 2017.

The 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was set to be the Brazilian’s last, but the Grove based squad persuaded him to return on a one-year deal, after driver Bottas was head hunted by Mercedes following the retirement of Nico Rosberg, just days after winning the world championship.

Williams were reluctant to release the Finn without finding an experienced replacement to drive alongside rookie Lance Stroll, and they felt Massa would be the perfect solution to that dilemma.

Speaking about his return to the F1 grid, Massa confirmed he still has the drive to race, and is very much looking forward to competing again next year.

“Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. 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.

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

“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.”

Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams confirmed her delight at being able to work with Massa again, whilst also thanking Bottas for his hard work and commitment during his time with the Grove based squad.

“I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign.

“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.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to.

“He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go. Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.”