Williams turned to Felipe Massa to 'provide stability' in the wake of Valtteri Bottas switch to Mercedes, Claire Williams has revealed despite the Brazilian retiring from the sport less than two months ago.
Massa bid an emotional farewell to F1 following November's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2008 runner-up having announced in September of his plans to leave the series after losing his 2017 Williams drive to rookie Lance Stroll.
However, with Nico Rosberg's shock retirement days after Massa's 'final' event proceeding to shake up the driver market once again, Bottas' switch to Mercedes has opened the door for Massa to beat a hasty return to the sport.
Though the unorthodox turnaround and subsequent one-year deal have raised eyebrows, deputy team principal Williams saw Massa's 'experience' to be crucial asset in its quest to get a good start on the latest regulations.
“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,” she said.
“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.”
Williams also paid tribute to Mercedes-bound Bottas and wished him well in his new endeavour with the title-defending team.
“I'm delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign. 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.”
Massa moved from Ferrari to Williams ahead of the 2014 F1 season and proceeded to enjoy something of a career renaissance, adding five podiums to his tally over the last three years.
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