First Jeff Gordon came out of retirement in 2016 when Hendrick Motorsports was in need of a driver, and now it appears Felipe Massa will do the same for Williams Martini Racing in 2017.
The Brazilian driver has reportedly decided not to retire from Formula 1 and accepted an offer to return to Williams next season, via Motorsport.com. Massa had previously announced at the Italian Grand Prix he would no longer compete in F1 after the 2016 season.
Although the deal has yet to be finalized, it all but confirms that Valtteri Bottas will slot in alongside Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes-AMG Petronas next year.
Bottas is believed to be the favorite to replace Nico Rosberg, who announced his retirement shortly after winning the world championship at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Williams, however, reportedly said it’s reluctant to let the Finn go unless it can secure a veteran driver to partner with 18-year-old Lance Stroll.
“If we did allow Valtteri to leave, we would only do this if an experienced, credible alternative was available, such as someone like Felipe Massa, for example,” the team said.
Massa made it very clear throughout the season that he had no desire to stay in the sport beyond 2016. Considering how well-liked Massa is by everybody in the F1 paddock, his sudden change of heart likely came because he knew this might be the only chance Bottas will get to drive for a top team.
As it stands, Mercedes-AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff is part of Bottas’s management team, though, that doesn’t mean Mercedes can’t acquire him. When Wolff took the role of executive director at Mercedes, he agreed he would remove himself from that role if the team ever signed Bottas.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Content Pool