Massa announces his retirement
News of Button’s sabbatical has now made Williams the key to next year’s driver market, with Felipe Massa announcing his retirement from the sport during the Italian GP weekend.
Massa told reporters on Thursday that he would hang up his helmet at the end of this season, amid speculation the Grove outfit was not looking to retain him alongside Valtteri Bottas next term.
Massa, an 11-time GP winner, said: “After 27 years of my racing career, since I started karting and with 15 years in F1, this will be my last season in F1. I’m so proud to have been part of this team. Williams had a difficult moment and then we managed to get amazing results in the last two championships.
“I have been here for 15 years, so I want to leave this paddock with my head up, not down, which is very important, that’s the way I am.”
Massa opted to announce his retirement at Monza, the same place in which his ex-ferrari team-mate Michael Schumacher first announced his initial retirement 10 years earlier.
“I choose this place because 10 years ago Michael announced his retirement here. The only way for me to stay [at Ferrari for 2007] was for him to stop. He chose to give me this option to stay.”
Massa came within a corner of winning the 2008 world championship for Ferrari.
Claire Williams added: “He is a true gentleman. We were so lucky he joined for 2014. We were a team in dire straights, we needed someone to come and be part of the team.”
Button had been tipped to return to Williams, the squad at which he began his F1 career in 2000. With him out of the running, the team has been linked with both Force India’s Sergio Perez and Sauber racer Felipe Nasr.