Felipe Massa has announced he will retire from Formula 1 for a second time at the end of this season amid uncertainty over the Williams driver line-up.
The Brazilian originally retired last season as Williams opted to pair Lance Stroll with Valtteri Bottas for 2017, but was tempted to return when Bottas was signed by Mercedes as a replacement for 2016 drivers’ champion Nico Rosberg. Massa has enjoyed a solid season, scoring 36 points, but was leapfrogged by Stroll for the first time in the drivers’ championship as a result of the Canadian rookie’s sixth place in Mexico.
With Williams yet to confirm who will partner Stroll in 2018 – following tests for Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta – Massa has taken matters into his own hands and announced his retirement via a video on social media.
“As you know, last year I decided to announce my retirement from Formula 1 but because of the Williams request I decided to do another season,” Massa said. “But this time will be my last race in Brazil of Formula 1, and my last race in Abu Dhabi of Formula 1.
“So I would like to say thank you very much to all my family, to all my friends, to all my sponsors, and to all of my fans who really supported me a lot. Thank you very much, I really hope to see you in Interlagos and Abu Dhabi. I really hope you can support me next year or maybe in the future in other races and other categories.”
Deputy team principal Claire Williams added her thanks to Massa, focusing on the commitment he showed to the team by returning for this season.
“I would like to thank Felipe for all he has done for the team over the last four years,” Williams said. “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with him. We are especially grateful that he agreed to postpone his retirement from Formula 1 for a year, after Valtteri joined Mercedes, which demonstrated the depth of the relationship we built during our time together.
“We appreciate that it wasn’t an easy decision for him to return, after having such an emotional send-off at the end of last year. On behalf of Sir Frank, and all the team, we give our very best wishes to Felipe for the future.”
36-year-old Massa has 11 wins to his name with two races remaining this season, and came within a point of winning the drivers’ championship with Ferrari in 2008, when Lewis Hamilton dramatically secured the title on the final lap of the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. Following an emotional send-off at Interlagos a year ago, Massa recently stated his desire to know his future plans before his home race this season.
Massa’s retirement comes with Williams assessing whether to give Kubica a full-time return to F1 following two tests for the Pole in a 2014 car in both Silverstone and Hungary. Reserve driver di Resta also drove at the Hungaroring following a one-off appearance in place of the unwell Massa this season, while Pascal Wehrlein and Daniil Kvyat have also been linked to a Williams seat in 2018.