The 2017 grid was supposed to be near complete as the season ended in Abu Dhabi last November. Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement however gave people something to speculate during this off-season. There have been many names thrown out for the seat alongside Lewis Hamilton, but it would seem that Williams’ Valtteri Bottas has come out on top. Felipe Massa, who was supposed to retire from F1 after last season, has been said to replace Bottas at Williams if the Finn leaps to Mercedes. This has risen a question as Mercedes was rumored to have offered their youth driver Pascal Wehrlein to Williams so why they opted to take Massa?
Old enough to market alcohol
A big reason that can’t be overlooked is the fact that Williams’ main sponsor is the alcohol brand Martini. They have made clear that Williams must have an over-25 driver, as the legal drinking age varies from country to country. As Wehrlein is only 22 and the 18-year-old Lance Stroll being Williams’ other driver this pairing could lead to Williams losing its main sponsor, or at least talks between the two should be held. Signing Felipe then instead of Pascal is an easy choice for Williams to avoid complex talks with a major cash flow.
Experience to develop the car with a familiar team
A big thing Massa has over Wehrlein is his overall experience in Formula One and his experience with Williams. If Williams were to hire Wehrlein over Massa, they would have two drivers that are new to the team and so Williams would need to use time to introduce the ways of the team in all aspects of the sport to Wehrlein and Lance Stroll. Another important thing Massa has got going for him is his knowledge of developing a car based on the driver’s feelings. Massa knows how to give feedback to the team in a way it creates useful results. Before Mercedes mixed Williams’ driver plans, the job of developing the car was said to be 95 percent on Bottas’s responsibility. If we compare Massa and Wehrlein, Wehrlein just finished his first season in F1, Massa his 14th. The Brazilian is in a whole another dimension when it comes to developing a car and giving substantial feedback to the team.
Massa might lose to Wehrlein on raw speed and hunger for success, but he bring crucial experience and age. Williams obviously value Massa’s virtues over Wehrlein’s. Of course we must remember, that Massa will only come out of retirement to drive for Williams if Bottas goes to Mercedes.
Do you think Williams were right to take Massa over Wehrlein to replace Bottas? Please, comment below!