Valtteri Bottas could be on his way to Mercedes after all. The Williams Martini Racing Team had initially rejected an offer from the Silver Arrows for the Finn however Paddock Eye has learned that Felipe Massa, who retired from Formula One at the end of last season could be on his way back to Grove
According to French publication L’Equip, Massa is in advanced talks with Williams about returning to the team on a year only contract to fill the void left by Bottas’ departure.
Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams said that the team were flattered that Mercedes were looking at Bottas to replace Nico Rosberg and that they would consider releasing the Finn from his contract if Williams could secure the services of someone like Massa who has considerable experience in Formula One and with the team.
Williams told BBC Sport:
If we did allow Valtteri to leave, we would only does this if an experienced, credible alternative was available, such as someone like Felipe Massa for example.
If Williams were to bring back Massa to the team and allow Bottas to leave for Mercedes it could provide some extra financial revenue as the Brazilian may entice some more sponsors to come in. It would be a good solution for the Grove based outfit who struggled in 2016 finishing the year in fourth place in the championship behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
Massa, a veteran of 250 Grand Prix would also be a great benchmark for rookie Lance Stroll who will make his Formula One debut with the Grove based out in Melbourne, at the Australian Grand Prix in March.
The news of a possible Williams return for Massa comes on the same day that the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team confirmed that they will name Nico Rosberg’s replacement until January 3rd at the earliest.
In a separated development, Mercedes are looking to replace their Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe with former Ferrari technical director James Allison as Lowe is expected to re-join Williams in a senior management position once his contract with Mercedes expires at the end of the year.
It is believed that Williams and Lowe are waiting until his contract with Mercedes expires to announce the move as the Englishman would not be required to serve gardening leave.