Williams have announced that Felipe Massa will join them for 2014, replacing Pastor Maldonado as they retain Valtteri Bottas for a second season.
Massa had faced uncertainty about his future after it was revealed that Kimi Raikkonen would be returning to Ferrari to partner Fernando Alonso. After being linked with a number of teams and expressing his desire to continue racing in Formula One, although in a competitive car, Massa will still be on the grid for 2014 after agreeing a contract with Williams.
Team Principal Frank Williams said of Massa, on the official Williams website: “We are delighted to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up and welcome Felipe into the Williams family. He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track; he also brings a wealth of experience as we begin a new chapter in our story”. After a disappointing 2013 campaign, which sees the team lying in ninth place with a solitary point, Williams are determined to bring success back to the team.
Massa’s Formula One career started over a decade ago when he joined Sauber in 2002. He spent 2003 testing for Ferrari, before returning to a race seat in 2004 and 2005 with Sauber. In 2006 he joined Ferrari as a race driver and partnered the likes of Michael Schumacher, Raikkonen and Alonso. He came close to winning the world championship in 2008 and has taken a number of race wins, pole positions, and podiums. With 138 race starts for Ferrari under his belt, only Schumacher has started more for the Scuderia. During his time with Ferrari he has also become part of a well loved friendship with race engineer Rob Smedley, who is rumoured to be heading to Williams as well.
Massa said: “Williams is one of the most successful and important teams of all times in Formula One. When I was a kid, I always dreamed about racing for Williams, Ferrari or McLaren and I’m glad to be signing with another icon of the sport following my time at Ferrari. It is also nice to remember that some of the best Brazilian drivers raced for Williams and cemented a strong national link with the team. I’m highly motivated to start working hard from the very beginning in what is an exciting new challenge in my career.”
Massa will be partnering Bottas for the 2014 season. The Finn joined Williams as a race driver in 2013, after a year of being their test driver. There was a lot of anticipation surrounding his arrival, after impressing in practice and testing. However, the car has been disappointing this year and he has not been able to shine as much as it was thought. He said of his second year at Williams: “I’m very happy to be staying with the team as I embark on my second season in Formula One. I have known everyone here for many years, firstly as a test driver and now as a race driver, so it feels like home. I have faith in Williams and I know we can do so much better in the future than our current performance shows.”
Outgoing driver Pastor Maldonado has been linked with Lotus. In the line-up announcement, the team thanked him for his contribution over the past three seasons, particularly his win at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix.