Felipe Massa has not been signed by Williams as a pay driver, according to the Formula 1 team’s deputy team principal Claire Williams.
While the Brazilian is a driver who has the potential to attract backers to the team, particularly sponsors from South America, Williams insists Massa’s ability’s was always the main attraction with any commercial benefits secondary.
“At Williams, the most important thing to us has always been the talent and that has been the priority over the commercial benefits or [commercial] attraction of a driver,” Williams said. “Felipe is not a pay driver, he has made that very clear and we have appointed him for his talent and for what we believe he can deliver to us in the cockpit. It’s now up to us to go out there and take advantage of the fact that he is from Brazil and they are the biggest audience that our sport has.”
Massa has signed what is described as a “multi-year” deal that should ensure he remains at Williams until at least the end of the 2015 season. Williams also has no doubts that Massa can deliver the level of performance that almost won him the world championship in 2008.
“That was a long time ago now — we have no concerns whatsoever,” said Williams when asked about worries about Massa’s performance level since his accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix that ruled him out for the rest of that season. “This year he has delivered and he has done a fantastic job with the Ferrari.
“Drivers can change year on year and we look at his whole career and evaluate that. This is a new lease of life for Felipe; he has been at Ferrari for a long time and when you do make changes, it can drive a real impetus in your character and what you deliver, a change that can often be for the better.”
Massa visited the team’s factory for the announcement on Monday and Williams is confident his arrival will be a major boost.
“He has the experience we really need to move this team forward from a car development and performance perspective,” she said. “He’s here today and bouncing around, everyone has been given a real boost.
“It will really help everybody going into next year. We are really looking forward to him joining.”