Completing the F1 2017 driver puzzle – Felipe Massa stays on at Williams, Valtteri Bottas moves to Mercedes
altteri Bottas Felipe Massa
Posted By: Editor   |  16 Jan 2017   |  3:01 pm GMT  |  49 comments

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.

Felipe Massa

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.

Felipe Massa

“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 Bottas

“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.

What do you make of the news that Felipe Massa will stay on for one more year at Mercedes? And of Bottas’ move to Mercedes? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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Williams’s request, on Bottas’s move to Mercedes, for Massa to return for the 2017 season from retirement from F1 and Williams at the end of 2016 and his acceptance, proves the belief that had it not been for the F1 policy of ‘money talks’, Massa rather than Bottas would have been head-hunted by Mercedes for 2017 on the retirement of Rosberg. The Williams results last year illustrated without the preferential treatment and setting aside faulty equipment, Massa scored better than Bottas. Now, it waits to be seen whether Massa without an adversary at Williams will be able to show his true worth to F1 and Williams and prove the point in 2017. Bonne chance et bon courage en 2017, Felipe!


Williams’s requested return of Massa who retired from Williams and F1 in 2016 on Bottas’s move to Mercedes, proves the belief that had it not been for the F1 policy of ‘money talks’, Massa rather than Bottas would have been head-hunted by Mercedes for 2017 on the retirement of Rosberg. The Williams results last year illustrated that setting aside faulty equipment without the preferential treatment Massa scored better than Bottas. Now, it waits to be seen whether Massa will be able to show his true worth to F1 and Williams and prove the point in 2017. Bonne chance et bon courage en 2017, Felipe!


The adage ‘money talks’ provided a fitting metaphor for the past Williams team and drivers. I personally believe Bottas was given the Number 1 car at Williams and Massa, the undervalued driver the No 2 car and the results continually confirmed this. Consequently, Massa’s return to Williams in 2017 comes as no surprise when Bottas went to Mercedes. Can Massa show what he can do with the right Williams car? only time will tell.


I bet they wished Button had wanted to race for them instead…


Not really. Mercedes would have his race speed trap data and his performance throughout the season. He was a non starter right from the get go. Besides he still has a contract with Mclaren as an ambassador while his odd’ish contract runs it’s course.


Disagree. Williams were courting Button way before he decided to stay with McLaren. He just didnt want to drive for a perrenial midfield team. He would have comfortably outperformed Massa and they know it.


Totally agree on the last point
scott d . Button would’ve have beaten Massa hands down.
Button did also take Claire and Williams on a “Will he won’t he” merry go round. But plumbed for remaining at Mclaren in the hope he may get a drive if Alonso took a sabbatical mid way in the season if the car was lacking race pace. But somehow I think Mclaren may have a top 3 car that may even beat Ferrari into 4th place. The engine apparently is reconfigured like the Mercedes and with the ex Red Bull aero engineer they will have a tight car come testing. If it’s orange to it will look amazing unlike the 140J Orange Datsun from the early 1980s. Though it looks pretty retro now just need some orange dice and some Disco on the 8 track.


Booooring decision. F1 needs a top dog in Mercedes or a Youngster not a Finish Barrichello


Maybe so but. When your choice is limited by a shock departure of Rosberg. Mercedes were left in the mire. So a safe pair of hands is needed not a young Turk that may push beyond his capabilities.
You only get a few special ones like Hamilton Vettel Alonso throughout F1 history. The only that fits that pattern is Max V. The rest are pretty average. As for Ricciardo he will be limited by the Max V principle and Red Bull bosses appreciation and value for a young Turk with shed loads of talent promoting the Red Bull name.


A one year deal for Bottas? Is that it?

So he’s a stop gap until Mercedes can get who they really want in 2018 then.

I’m hopefully the Mercedes opportunity will give Bottas the boost he so desperately appears to need because he looked like he was going somewhere only to fade into, what appears, a fairly average driver. I’ve been pretty shocked by his more recent wet weather performances.

Maybe those Ferrari rumours that didn’t materialise into a drive knocked a load of self belief that he would ever progress further up the grid?

Either way we need a grid of F1 stars not content number two’s so here’s hoping he grows at Mercedes.

Massa ok so I’m hardly his biggest fan but… Is he really the best option available? Granted there wasn’t a lot of obvious other options but I just don’t see what Massa is going to bring to Williams in 2017. He was mentally saying goodbye to F1 since September and he’s been on a downward spiral for years.

I’m not even confident Massa is going to enjoy 2017 spec F1. He’s 5ft 4ins and weighs 9 stone. That’s horse jockey or Victoria Beckham territory! 2017 F1 cars are supposedly significantly more demanding.

Given he had retired, and had planned to stay retired, can he physically make the step up again for 2017 cars?

Feels like Williams are writing off 2017 before it’s even started. I’m expecting Claire to make lots of statements about it being a “rebuilding phase” for Williams F1.


The Felipe Massa who was so fiercly against young rookies: ” 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.”
All for the money.


Could this be the most boring of all the possible scenarios?
No disrespect to the individuals, but I can’t see anything here to make for better races for the fans. Both teams just sureing up a safe/mediocre outcomes.


For me one of the interesting aspects for 2017 will be to see how Bottas shapes up at Mercedes. The jury seems to be out on him: I am one of those who see him as something of a “journeyman” – but soon we will know if he is a genuine leading F1 driver – or a good “No, 2”. I will be happy to be proved wrong on this.

Very disappointed that Felipe has returned as he is past his best – I guess Williams had no choice given that with Stroll they needed someone with experience – so Williams has been the big loser in all of this I think.


A “journeyman” who has been with the same team – his first in F1 – for four years and was set to stay there for at least another until this golden opportunity came his way.

Shame on him for being so fickle, eh?


This year will be a tough one, with the new aero regs, the free development in engines and the physical demands of the new aero on the drivers.
With all that in mind, Felipe’s performance at Williams will be hanging on his inner motivation and mental preparation. Massa is prone to variations, up and down, that we don’t see in other drivers.
As for Bottas, I am surprised to read comments writing him off. He is still growing as a driver and I believe him a toughie. I hope he is given enough time at Mercedes to prove himself.


I think it is a big mistake for Massa to come back. He will damage his reputation


Something makes me feel really uneasy about a driver coming back the very next season after going through big a farewell send-off just a couple of months prior.


Alonso aside, it’s a real shame Sainz didn’t get that Merc drive to rekindle his rivalry with Max and keep Lewis on his toes.

I’ll give Bottas three races before he falls fully into Lewis’s number two driver with the poor man’s strategies, especially if Toto panics if the Red Bulls are closer, within a few tenths of the Merc.


It will be at least as difficult as it was in 2016, but it would be absolutely fantastic if Felipe would win again. Maybe the renewed enthusiasm will and an improved car will propel him to the top of the podium.


How long before someone points out that Bottas is managed by Wolff if something goes wrong for Lewis?


The BBC is reporting that Bottas is only on a one year deal.
Not expressing much confidence in him, are they ?

Clearly Mercedes have their eye on someone else for 2018. It’s obviously Vettel who is out of contract at the end of 2017 and deeply unhappy at Ferrari.

There is a strong possibility that they already have Vettel’s signature on a contract which they are keeping under wraps. Bottas staying at Mercedes would then depend on Hamilton moving on.

At least by moving from Williams Bottas has one season to demonstrate that he is good enough to hold down a drive in a race winning team and maybe he could then pick up the Ferrari drive – if Hamilton doesn’t move there.


“we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity”

Reads to me like: “we have been working hard to ensure that we get lots of Merc engines cheap before we gave Valtteri this fantastic opportunity”

Or am I being too cynical?


This is the big money world of F1, can you really be TOO cynical?


Can’t help but agree that Bottas will struggle compared to Rosberg. Rosberg was a great driver, despite the relentless smearing from Hamilton fans, and massively underrated. Shame his career will be defined by his rivalry with Hamilton, I really believed he would step it up a level next year with the championship monkey off his back and race more freely.


Typical of Williams slide to mediocrity.

Torchwood Mobile

Even the great Lewis Hamilton took a year to bed down with Mercedes, so don’t get too excited for Bottas’ first year with the team.

He’s had a couple of second places already, so he should be able to fight for wins in a Merc’.


Torch wood, Lewis still beat Nico that year.



Williams will struggle as Massa will not offer anymore than he did in 2016.

Bottas will be Okay at Mercedes. Yep just Okay, nothing more, nothing less. How dull.


Chris, who do you think Merc and Williams should have gone for?


Very happy for Bottas and Mercedes. I think they have wonderful driver pair now in their hands. Bottas has to prove himself and I believe he will. He has made steady progress all of his career and delivered. I was very surprised by Berger’s comments. I wonder if he had some hidden agenda with Wehrlein or he thinks Massa is an awful driver. Bottas outscored, outpaced Massa more than any driver pairing. What more did mr. Berger needed Bottas to “trash” Massa. But now Bottas can show against the fastest if he can challenge him. Its good that some change among top teams. Hope also that Redbull and Ferrari can challenge regularly for wins next season. We need close racing at the top again.


Such a boring solution to what could have been such a great spice up of the whole field.
I predict Bottas ‘doing a kovaleinen’ and having one or maybe 2 (if he’s lucky) seasons of complete anonymity before moving back down the grid.
I predict him predominantly finishing 4th behind hamilton and the red bulls (in varying orders), and maybe getting a win somewhere, if hamilton has some reliability issues at one of the power circuits where the bulls aren’t so strong.
Even more reason to hope the Red Bull car is good, given there won’t be much competition at Merc.


Well then perhaps we’ll get a Lazarus of Caterham?


Agree completely. Bottas offers speed but not championship winning speed; he is about as edgy as a football.


You can wedge some edge on a football and give it some slice


Let’s not forget Kovy had a lot of tech issues in his time at Mclaren. He still got a win & podiums. He is also the current Super GT500 champion, so I wouldn’t call him anonymous. Bottas will have an easier time given Mercs’ speed & reliability


fuller, How come to compare Bottas with Kovalainen? Why not with the compatriots Keke, Mika and Kimi ?? Should I dig out some british underperformers?


Because both of them were partnered with Hamilton and no British driver partnered with Hamilton in F1 has been broadly seen as underperforming. May as well ask why James didn’t name any Peruvian underperformers.


Bottas and Kovi yep that’s about the sum of it . A pair of clones.👴👴


So true Rupert! I surrender in front of your clever comparison! Going to have a portion of tranquilizer 🙂


John to be named.
Chill it’s just Banter and one understands your line of argument.
We shall see what happens in the 2017 season 👍
Keep of the jellies 🐱


I hope it works well for Felipe, but you have to remember that Williams were dumping him in favour of a young rookie. I was hoping that the musical chairs created by Rosberg retiring might have opened an opportunity for Button.



Button would be too expensive, and Felipe knows the team. Felipe’s the logical choice, although I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he saunters back into the garage and meets his technicians who lined the pits to applaud his farewell a few short months ago. #awkward


Good news for Mercedes and Bottas, bad ones for Ham.


John is your name soon 🔌
Why bad news ?
Lewis doesn’t care who is partner is.
Him Alonso and Vettel are the top dogs. The holy trinity and the most paid.
You’re talking Rubbish.
Big time !!


Didn’t Dan Ric take a top three spot and put Seb Vet on to the subs bench recently?


Not really
You have be a multi champion to even be allowed to usurp a Top Gun champion. The 3 drivers are multi champioship winners. That’s the Trinity the 3 Top Guns.
Ricciardo hasn’t won anything. Even if he won one (which won’t happen now that Versteppen is the main man in the owners eyes. He will get the main love from Dr. Marko et al, Ricciardo will end up in the Webber role. So expect fireworks and rage at Red Bull from the Aussie) he still won’t be a multi champ winner.


John, we will see…

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