Claire Williams has revealed she felt bad about asking Felipe Massa to postpone his retirement, but was delighted to find out the Brazilian was eager to extend his Formula 1 career into 2017.
With Valtteri Bottas making the switch from Williams Martini Racing to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team this season in place of the retired Nico Rosberg, Williams admitted she was worried about asking Massa to return, with the Brazilian having seemed set to retire following the 2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
But Williams was happier once the request had been made and Massa had revealed that he was eager to return and work alongside Lance Stroll in 2017.
“Bless him, Felipe had announced his retirement, we had a whole fanfare around it, and then to have to phone your ex-driver up and say ‘would you mind coming out of retirement?’, you feel quite bad about it,” said Williams to Sky Sports News.
“But I’ve never heard anyone so happy and excited, so it was a big relief for us.”
Williams knows that Massa will not lose his motivation for driving during this additional, yet final season of Formula 1, and she knows that the popular Brazilian will be able to deliver the results.
“We are never going to put a driver in the car who we don’t believe can deliver,” said Williams. “As everyone saw even in his last race last year, he delivered for this team.
“He has lost none of his motivation. I know there’s a lot of talk out there, ‘Let the guy retire, leave him alone.’ He wants to come back. Little known to me, I didn’t actually realise that he didn’t really want to retire, and so I think Felipe is going to do a good job this year.
“He’s got a year to just have some fun and sometimes when that’s the case the pressure is off. He can just go out there and deliver, without worrying about anything else.
“So I’m looking forward to seeing what he could do, and having that pairing with Lance I hope is going to work really well for us.”