Popular Brazilian racing driver Felipe Massa has done a u-turn on his decision to retire, and has re-signed for the Williams team for another season. Massa took part in his supposed final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi in November, having decided to retire after fifteen years in the sport. However, winter rumour placed him firmly at the heart of the silly season after the retirement announcement from newly crowned Champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes.
Having joined Williams at the end of 2013, the Grove based team have convinced Massa to return for another season alongside new rookie Lance Stroll.
“Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams.” said Massa after the announcement was made. “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.”
“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.”
Massa replaces the departing Valtteri Bottas, who has signed for the Mercedes team alongside Lewis Hamilton. Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams paid tribute to both of her 2016 drivers as the decision for 2017 became final: “
“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.”