Formula One

Arrivederci Felipe – Part Due

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In 2016, it looked as if Williams driver Felipe Massa would leave Formula One. Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas had been signed to contest the 2017 schedule for the British team. Then, Mercedes 2016 champion Nico Rosberg announced his retirement from F1 racing and everything changed.

Williams was very quickly short one driver because of the unexpected exit of Rosberg. Mercedes turned to one of the best Formula One drivers not employed by them, Ferrari, or Red Bull – Bottas. The Finn was signed almost last minute by Mercedes for 2017 and Williams did not have the time for anything close to normal driver recruitment. So, Massa was nearly as rapidly asked to stay another year with his old team.

Thus, Felipe Massa, who started in F1 with Sauber back in 2002 when Max Verstappen was starting kindergarten, was suddenly thrust back into the spotlight for another final tour of duty. But, Williams was not clear about who would have his seat next year. It’s known that they are considering reserve driver Paul Di Resta, current Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein, and even former driver Robert Kubica, But what about Massa?

“I agreed to return this season to help Williams when the call came,” Massa said. “I have now enjoyed four great years with the team, but my career in Formula 1 will finally come to an end this season.”

Reportedly the Brazilian driver insisted on knowing if a drive for him with Williams was in the cards beyond the current season. Apparently, it’s not.

Team deputy leader Claire Williams commented, “I would like to thank Felipe for all he has done for the team over the last four years. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with him. We are especially grateful that he agreed to postpone his retirement from F1 for a year, after Valtteri joined Mercedes, which demonstrated the depth of the relationship we built during our time together”.

And so his F1 career will end with the final two races of 2017, his home race in Sao Paulo and the season finale in Abu Dhabi, both in November. So, for the second time – part due – it’s arrivederci Felipe.

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Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.

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