Two more 2014 Formula One seats have been cemented today as Williams announced that Felipe Massa will partner Valtteri Bottas in the Grove squad.
Massa’s future has been uncertain since he learned of being replaced at Ferrari by Kimi Raikkonen, but the Brazilian insists that he had been in extended talks with a number of other teams, including Lotus and McLaren.
For what is described as a “multi-year” contract, the driver has been brought in to bring Williams forward from the ninth best team in the pit lane in what has been a difficult five years for the team.
And by retaining Bottas they have a talent that can be assisted by Massa’s experience. Bottas has beaten outgoing Pastor Maldonado in head-to-head qualifying performances, impressive considering race-winner Maldonado’s forte comes in qualifying.
The news indicates that Maldonado is headed for Lotus, as suggested in Abu Dhabi.
“We are delighted to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up and welcome Felipe into the Williams family,” said Williams Team Principal, Frank Williams. “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. 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.”
Williams now become only the fifth team to fully announce their 2014 driver line-up, after Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso. And Massa believes that his experience can bring the team through a tough period.
“Williams is one of the most successful and important teams of all time in Formula One,” said Massa. “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.”
For Bottas it offers the opportunity for another year to establish himself in F1 after finding his feet in his debut season.
“I’m very happy to be staying with the team as I embark on my second season in Formula One,” said Bottas. “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.”