Maldonado exit opens Williams door for Massa (5th Update) UPDATE #5
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Williams have confirmed Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will drive for the team during the 2014 Formula One season, leaving Pastor Maldonado currently without a seat.
|Felipe Massa confirmed by Williams|
Sir Frank Williams said “We are delighted to be able to confirm our 2014 driver line-up and welcome Felipe into the Williams family. He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track; he also brings a wealth of experience as we begin a new chapter in our story. Valtteri is a valued member of the team and I’m pleased he was able to demonstrate his talent in tricky conditions in Montréal. There is much more to come from him.”
Felipe Massa added “Williams is one of the most successful and important teams of all time in Formula One. When I was a kid, I always dreamed about racing for Williams, Ferrari or McLaren and I’m glad to be signing with another icon of the sport following my time at Ferrari. It is also nice to remember that some of the best Brazilian drivers raced for Williams and cemented a strong national link with the team. With such a major change of regulations in 2014, I hope my experience will be useful in helping the team in its effort to move on from a difficult period. Since my early days in motor racing, I don’t remember seeing so many new rules in a single season and I’m fully prepared to work with everyone at Grove to make sure we find the right direction. I’m highly motivated to start working hard from the very beginning in what is an exciting new challenge in my career.” 11/11/13 According to AR1.com sources Felipe Massa will definitely sign to drive for Williams in 2014. We await the announcement.
10/24/13 (GMM) Felipe Massa on Thursday admitted he is in talks with Williams.
Earlier, a Brazilian website said Massa, 32, has rescued his F1 career with a five-year deal starting in 2014.
The report said the Paulista, who has driven for Ferrari since 2006, will replace Pastor Maldonado.
That would tie in with speculation Massa's move is being powered by the former Williams sponsor Petrobras, a Brazilian oil company, whose branding would clash with Venezuela's PDVSA.
Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, locked in a sports backing corruption scandal but with a lucrative Williams contract until 2015, is reportedly in talks now to exit the deal.
Poised with his Brazilian dollars, then, Massa is waiting.
"It's too early to talk about it," he is quoted by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"I am talking with many teams, and Williams is one of them."
The 'Diario Motorsport' website report earlier on Thursday, however, insisted Massa will not be a 'pay driver'.
The Brazilian driver had exactly the same message in the Buddh paddock on Thursday.
"I do not pay to drive," said Massa. "If a team wants to have me, it's because of my performance and my experience.
"I would never go to a team and say 'I have a sponsor, can I drive for you?'
"First, I want the contract," Massa explained. "Then if a sponsor wants to join, I will help the team, because any extra money for the team will also benefit me."10/24/13 This rumor is upgraded to strong today. Felipe Massa has agreed a five-year deal to stay in formula one next year with the British team Williams, a Brazilian website is reporting.
'Diario Motorsport' said the Brazilian, who has lost his Ferrari race seat, will replace Pastor Maldonado, who could take his lucrative PDVSA backing to Lotus.
The report said the news, with 32-year-old Massa to be "paid a wage" by Williams rather than become a pay-driver, will be announced "in the next days or even hours".
But for now, it remains just a rumor, even though it is interesting that, only very recently, Massa decided to 'follow' Oxfordshire based Williams on Twitter.10/18/13 (GMM) Pastor Maldonado's exit at Williams could pave the way for Felipe Massa, the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo is reporting.
Correspondent Livio Oricchio claims talks between Venezuelan Maldonado's management and sponsors, and bosses of the Grove based team, are taking place now.
The 28-year-old has reportedly run out of patience at Williams, despite the fact his powerful sponsors PDVSA remain under contract to the British team.
Williams admits it has a problem.
"I've never seen a racing car that reacts so little to modifications," veteran team manager Dickie Stanford told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, referring to the FW35 that has powered Maldonado to just a single point in 2013.
One unnamed team member, however, said 2012 Spanish grand prix winner Maldonado has also been part of the problem.
"He still makes too many mistakes," the team member is quoted as saying.
"In Korea, we told him repeatedly in the last stint to take care of the right front and, if possible, stay out of the battles.
"But what did he do? Drives like a madman and ruins his tires within three laps."
Maldonado also reportedly infuriated team bosses when he forced past teammate Valtteri Bottas in the final corner of the last lap in Japan, for a mere 16th place.
Both Germany's Auto Motor und Sport and O Estado de S.Paulo say Maldonado is eyeing departing Kimi Raikkonen's seat at Lotus.
Lotus would apparently prefer to sign Nico Hulkenberg, but that depends on the team finalizing its 35 per cent sale to a group of investors known as Quantum.
"They (Quantum) are always saying 'We're coming, we're coming', but nothing happens," a Lotus source told Oricchio.
That is where Maldonado could come in. His sponsor PDVSA, bringing EUR 35 million a year to Williams, remains under contract to Williams for two more years.
But Oricchio said exit talks between the Maldonado camp and Williams are taking place.
Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt said deputy team boss Claire Williams was in Caracus recently, amid rumors PDVSA could pay millions to buy its way out of the deal.
Oricchio agreed that the exit talks have intensified since Suzuka.
The Venezuelan state oil company would then back Maldonado's switch to Lotus.
It is said Maldonado's manager, Nicolas Todt, is pushing for the deal to happen because it would open Williams' door to his other charge, Felipe Massa.
The Brazilian, who has reportedly put together a sponsor package worth about EUR 6 million, including Petrobras, is looking for a drive for 2014 after losing his seat at Ferrari.
Todt said: "Yes, it's been difficult for Pastor this year, with a car that does not allow the drivers to score points.
"They have to react and they have been hiring new people. Next year it (Williams) would be an excellent option for Felipe."
10/17/13 Pastor Maldonado could be on the look-out for a new home with reports claiming his Williams deal won't be extended into 2014.
Backed by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, Maldonado made his Formula One debut back in 2011 with Williams.
However, his arrival coincided with a downturn in the team's fortunes and in his first year he scored just one point.
And although 2012 saw a mini revival, including a victory at the Spanish GP, this year Maldonado is yet again sitting on one point.
Added to that, the 28-year-old has at times been vocal in criticizing Williams' car and strategies, sparking rumors that his days are numbered.
According to the BBC's Eddie Jordan - who got Michael Schumacher's comeback at Mercedes right but may have missed with his recent prediction that Nico Hulkenberg is set to return to Force India - Maldonado won't be at Williams next season.
His departure, though, may have more to do with the driver than the team with EJ claiming 'Maldonado has been trying to get out of Williams all season.'
that a switch to Force India or Sauber could be on the cards.