MASSA READY TO MAKE RACING RETURN
Felipe Massa is on the brink of sealing a return to Williams for this year, which would leave the way clear for Valtteri Bottas to join Mercedes.
Brazilian Massa, 35, retired from grand prix racing following the end of last season, but sources suggest he has accepted an offer to continue with Williams for a further season in the wake of ongoing negotiations between the Grove team and Mercedes over Bottas.
Mercedes has been left with few options to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg, and sees Bottas as the ideal fit for the team due to his level of experience and Silver Arrows head Toto Wolff being part of the Finn’s management team.
As Motorsport News closed for press prior to Christmas, Mercedes was due to enter final negotiations with Williams to secure Bottas, with Massa being drafted back to stabilise the team.
Williams had been offered the use of Mercedes’ junior driver Pascal Wehrlein as part of a trade deal for Bottas’s services from Mercedes. That original proposal also included a reduction in Williams’ customer Mercedes engine bill of around £10m.
However, Williams did not wish to field two rookie drivers during a season that features sweeping changes to the technical regulations. The team has already signed Canadian Lance Stroll, and wanted experience alongside him to help with development and refinement of the new generation F1 cars. ● Williams also confirmed that technical director Pat Symonds was due to leave the team at the end of 2016. Symonds joined Williams on a three-year contract in 2014 and helped the squad achieve a third-place finish in the Constructors’ Championship that year and in 2015. Symonds’ departure coincides with question marks over Paddy Lowe’s future at Mercedes. Lowe’s contract was also due to expire at the end of last year, leaving him free to join a different team if he wished. Lowe could even form part of a leverage deal for Bottas.
Massa and Bottas are holding the key to the driver market
Massa could be set for another season