Reports in Brazilian and German media claim that Felipe Massa has accepted a deal to remain in Formula 1 for another year with Williams, allowing Valtteri Bottas to fill the most desired seat in the sport at Mercedes.
Auto Bild claim that Massa, who a month ago gave a tearful farewell to his fans at Interlagos, is set to remain in the sport to fulfill Williams’ contractual obligations to have an experienced driver alongside teenage rookie Lance Stroll who secured his drive thanks to a huge payment by his billionaire father Lawrence Stroll.
A number of sources suggest that a one year retainer of €6-million has enticed the Brazilian veteran to stay with Williams for another year.
His presence in the team ticks two very important boxes: the first being an experienced driver to mentor young Stroll; the other to provide Martini with a credible and marketable driver for the brand driver which a teenager is not.
This in turn allows Bottas to fill Nico Rosberg’s seat at Mercedes alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2017, fulfilling the wish of team boss (and Bottas manager) Toto Wolff to have the Finn at the Silver Arrows team.
Adding intrigue to the scenario is that Auto Bild reports that Hamilton is not keen to have Pascal Wehrlein as his teammate, because having the the young German in the team reminds him too much of the situation at 2007 at McLaren where Hamilton teamed up alongside Fernando Alonso.
Furthermore Wehrlein has proven to be very fast during his stints testing for Mercedes, and he has also clocked up more mileage in testing of the wider 2017 Pirelli tyres than any other driver.
The report goes even further and suggests that Hamilton is lying when he says he does not care who his teammate is next year, because the triple World Champion has vetoed Wehrlein’s promotion according to Auto Bild.