Massa coming out of retirement, Bottas to Mercedes
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Massa reportedly back, as F1's game of musical chairs continues to play out
In the wake of Nico Rosberg's surprise retirement from the world of Formula 1, all manner of different theories have been thrown together as to who would step into his very big, championship-winning shoes at Mercedes-Benz alongside Lewis Hamilton.
One theory has trumped all others however; Valtteri Bottas getting a grand promotion to move from Williams and into the coveted Petronas seat, leading former DTM champion Pascal Wehrlein to take up the Williams F1 vacancy and some young whipper snapper to replace Wehrlein at Manor F1 where he currently resides.
The issue though with that theory has been Lance Stroll. The young Canadian, a former Toyota Racing Series champion here in New Zealand, has been confirmed as Williams' second driver for next year. However the 18-year-old needs an experienced driver that can help mentor him — and theoretically 22-year-old Wehrlein is a bit 'green' for that task.
Added to that is the nature of primary sponsor Martini; an alcohol brand who probably wouldn't appreciate the look of having two drivers barely old enough to drink (in certain countries, not old enough ... ) representing their brand.
So what are Williams to do? Do they strain relationships and bank balances to retain Bottas or do they take a risk on plugging two youngsters into their cars. Well according to Motorsport.com and BBC Sport, there's a third way — lure Felipe Massa out of retirement.
Reports from the two sites this morning says that it's going to happen; Massa will join Stroll at Williams to take up a leadership role, and thus allow Bottas to move to Mercedes.
This follows confirmation that Williams F1 Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds would be leaving the team after a three-season stint. It's well rumoured that Mercedes technical chief Paddy Lowe will replace Symonds, after helping deliver Mercedes three sequential championship wins.
Earlier this year the popular 35-year-old Massa gave an emotional farewell at both the final round of the 2016 season at Abu Dhabi and at his home Grand Prix. The move was set to end a career that had spanned 15 seasons, with 11 race wins and two championship podiums.
Should he return, it will arguably be the first time that Massa has held a clear #1 driver slot, which could unlock further potential that we haven't yet seen from the F1 veteran.
It's believed that the movements will all be confirmed early next year.