Felipe Massa’s F1 career may not be over yet, but his time alongside Valtteri Bottas at Williams is.
These two have been a dependable pairing for the Grove team, leading them to third-place finishes in the constructors’ championship. Both drivers have reliably racked up points and stayed out of trouble.
The partnership didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts. At Sepang in 2014 Williams tried to impose team orders as their drivers battled for position, which Massa resisted.
After all, he’d had enough of being told his team mate was faster than him. Massa arrived at Williams after four years of being pummelled by Fernando Alonso.
Bottas, who was then heading into his second season, had embarrassed Pastor Maldonado the year before and proceeded to give Massa a very tough time in his new berth.
Their first year together set the tone for what was to follow. Bottas conclusively out-qualified Massa, and after three years together he had more than twice as many qualifying victories as his team mate.
Massa’s experience showed in the races, where the team’s 46 two-car finishes were divided evenly between the two in terms of who finished ahead. However in the second half of last season Massa’s successes were few and far between. Some of them – as in Austin – came about only because of misfortunes suffered by Bottas.
The signs Massa’s time had come were becoming increasingly hard to ignore even before he announced his retirement. This is an uncomfortable truth for the team ahead of his widely-expected return.
NB. The 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been treated as a single points race
2016 F1 season review
- The complete F1 Fanatic 2016 season review
- Your favourite F1 drivers and teams of 2016
- ‘Well done Baku’? No, it was 2016’s worst race
- F1 Fanatic’s must-read highlights of 2016
- Watch the top ten non-F1 races of 2016