By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Williams officially announced Felipe Massa is re-joining the team for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
The 35-year-Brazilian’s return means that he will team alongside incoming rookie driver Lance Stroll, with Valtteri Bottas released to join Mercedes – also on a one year deal.
Massa announced his retirement from F1 at the end of the 2016, but the shocking retirement of reigning world champion Nico Rosberg just days after winning the title opened up negotiations between Mercedes and Williams in an attempt to bring on Bottas.
Williams confirmed the release of Bottas on Monday, which allowed Massa to return for a fourth consecutive season to the team.
“Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams,” Massa said.
“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.”
Massa also took time out to recognize the chance his former teammate has been given and added that he is “extremely motivated” to return to the the Grove-based squad.
“Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes,” added Massa.
“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula 1 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.”
Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams added her joy to have Massa back on for 2017 and gave her best to the recently departed Bottas.
“I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign,” said Williams.
“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.
Williams added that it needed to have a “strong replacement” to fill the void that Bottas would leave in order to release him and that Massa’s return helps stabalize the team with an experienced driver.
“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,” Williams added.
“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.”