Felipe Massa will postpone his Formula 1 retirement and has agreed to race alongside Lance Stroll at Williams for the 2017 season, with the team confirming that Valtteri Bottas will join Mercedes.
Massa announced he was retiring from F1 at the end of 2016 but will stay on for one more season at Williams with Bottas joining Mercedes as a replacement for the recently retired Nico Rosberg.
The Brazilian driver, who will enter a fourth consecutive year with the Grove-based squad, was in a very strong negotiating position with Mercedes wanting Bottas and Williams needing an experienced driver to partner Stroll for 2017.
A Williams statement confirmed that Massa will race on with a one-year deal, which gives the team time to recruit a long-term replacement. It also stated that Bottas had been “released to join Mercedes for the 2017 season”.
Speaking as the news was announced, Massa said: “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.”
As she welcomed Massa back for one more year with the team, Williams’ deputy team principal Claire Williams also wished Bottas well with his switch to Mercedes.
Williams said: “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.”
Massa has started 250 F1 Grand Prix races and scored 11 wins, 41 podiums, 16 pole positions and 15 fastest laps during his 14-season career in the championship. He made his debut for Sauber in 2002 before spending a year as a Ferrari test driver. He raced for Sauber again between 2004-2005 and went on to spend the next eight seasons as a race driver for Scuderia.
He joined Williams at the start of 2014 and has scored five podiums for the team.
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