With much spotlight on who’ll partner Lance Stroll at Williams next year, current driver, Felipe Massa, has reaffirmed in his Motorsport.com column that’s he “happy to continue” with the team for the 2018 season.
“Speaking from my personal perspective, I feel fit, motivated and I am at a good time in my career,” Massa wrote in the column, “Williams knows exactly what I can bring to the team.”
Massa, however, hasn’t appeared as the prime candidate for the seat recently.
Motorsport Magazine’s Mark Hughes revealed on October 3rd, just two days after the Malaysian Grand Prix, Williams had organized a two day test at Hungary to evaluate drivers.
During this test, the team is thought to be directly comparing the capabilities of comeback hopeful, Robert Kubica, and the team’s current third driver, Paul di Resta, who impressed after filling in for the unwell Massa at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
But Massa seemed optimistic that the seat can still be his own, admitting, “I am happy with the car and the team.” Paddy Lowe has confirmed to Sky Sports that Massa is definitely still in contention for 2018, despite the Kubica/di Resta test.
Massa has so far been critical of the planned test, commenting in Japan’s Thursday Press Conference, “You cannot evaluate too much” from driving older generation cars. He said the jump between 2014 machinery, which will be used by both drivers in the test, to the current 2017 generation of cars is “completely different.”
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) October 8, 2017
Massa has driven for Williams since 2014. He actually announced his retirement at the end of 2016, but due to Valtteri Bottas’ sudden departure to Mercedes, the Brazilian was drafted back in for the 2017 season to partner 18 year old Lance Stroll.
One of the key issues with the 2018 Williams seat is age. Due to Williams’ sponsorship deal with alcohol company, Martini – it’s understood they’ve requested a driver over the age of 25 to partner 18 year old Lance Stroll, who wasn’t allowed to wear Martini logos in Japan due to him being under the country’s legal drinking age.
Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta all fit this criteria – it’s more important for knocking candidates such as Pascal Wehrlein and Carlos Sainz out of contention.
Massa admitted that if he was fortunate enough to receive the seat, he would be sure to bring “the usual levels of enthusiasm and motivation.”
Currently, Massa leads team mate Lance Stroll in the points. Ahead of the United States Grand Prix, Massa sits 11th in the Drivers World Championship with 34 points, just two ahead of Stroll, who lies 12th.
After scoring two P6’s in the first three rounds of 2017, Massa has failed to finish above P8 for the remainder of the season. Stroll, on the other hand, came away with a stunning podium in Baku.
However, that was one point Massa was vociferous about in his column, saying, “my only regret this year is losing out on 30 points because of some unlucky circumstances.”
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) October 7, 2017
Following suspension issues in Baku, Massa was forced to retire from what could’ve been a podium finish.
Massa took the time in his column to also reassert that the 2018 driver decision is not his own.
During the Thursday Press Conference in Japan, he said on the question of his future, “I don’t decide; the team decides.” Similarly, in this week’s column, Massa wrote it’s a case of, “if they [Williams] ask me to stay in 2018.”
This certainly makes it seem as though Massa’s future is somewhat out of his hands, and down to what happens during the Kubica/di Resta test, which will take place at the Hungaroring next week.