Despite once claiming that he would rather retire from F1 than swap a seat at Ferrari for another in the sport's midfield, Felipe Massa is now being linked to the weakest of this year's mid-grid teams.
The Brazilian confirmed his exit from Maranello early last week, pre-empting Ferrari's announcement that Kimi Raikkonen was returning to partner Fernando Alonso in 2014, and has already been mentioned in connection with either a reprise of his earlier stint at Sauber or a possible move in the opposite direction to Raikkonen, with a vacancy at Lotus still to be filled.
Now, however, Massa's name has cropped up in speculation over Williams' 2014 line-up, amid fresh rumours that Pastor Maldonado's sponsorship millions may see him move from Grove to Enstone over the winter.
Unlike the Venezuelan, Massa does not bring a large purse to support his ride, but his experience, allied to that of recently-acquired engineering guru Pat Symonds, could prove invaluable to a Williams outfit that looks set to have to recover from its worst season in the top flight for some time. Maldonado secured the team's only point in Hungary back in July, and his departure would leave highly-rated rookie Valtteri Bottas in need of a senior partner next year.
According to Italy's Autosprint
, however, Massa's arrival could tempt former Williams partner Petrobras to return to the team, while the same report also suggests that the Brazilian's current race engineer Rob Smedley is looking to return to the UK and could team up with his charge at Grove.
Should Massa not find a berth for 2014, it would leave Brazil without a representative on the grid for the first time since 1970. Emerson Fittipaldi's arrival ended that spell, and the two-time world champion is confident that someone will snap up Massa for 2014.
"I don't believe we will have no drivers in F1 next year," Fittipaldi told the O Estado de S.Paulo
newspaper, "I think Massa will sign with another team."
While the rumour mill continues to link Massa to various teams, however, the Brazilian has revealed that he is already in talks designed to keep him as relevant as possible in 2014.
While a return to Sauber would be emotional, Massa says his desire to remain a contender for points and podiums has already driven him towards Lotus, which presents the most competitive option outside of Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes and McLaren, all of which appear to have settled line-ups.