A report in the Brazilian media claims Felipe Massa signed a contract with Williams yesterday to drive for the team in 2017.
Massa’s immediate return from retirement will allow him to replace Valtteri Bottas in the team’s line-up so the 27-year-old can move to Mercedes.
Brazil’s Grande Premio claims Massa took just a few days to abandon his retirement plans. The report also indicated Mercedes made unsuccessful approaches to McLaren for Fernando Alonso and Renault for Nico Hulkenberg.
Massa will partner 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll at the team next season. The veteran of 250 races announced his retirement plans three months ago at the Italian Grand Prix.
With Felipe Nasr yet to agree a deal to remain on the grid the news means there will be at least one Brazilian driver on the grid in 2017.
Massa’s remarkable U-turn came about after Nico Rosberg announced his shock retirement from Formula One just days after he won the world championship. His unexpected decision left Mercedes without a team mate for Lewis Hamilton with just weeks to go until testing for the new season began and most drivers already under contract for 2017.
Bottas is connected to Mercedes via the team’s executive director Toto Wolff, who is involved in managing his career. He has spent his entire career to date with Williams. The team also uses a supply of Mercedes power units.
Mercedes has said it will not announce the identity of Hamilton’s team mate until the new year.
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year