Vandoorne to replace Button, Massa to retire (9th Update)

UPDATE

Felipe Massa
Massa rules out driving Brazilian Taxicabs

(GMM) Felipe Massa has ruled out continuing his racing career next year in Brazil's domestic stock car series.

The 15-year F1 veteran announced at Monza that he will retire from the category at the end of 2016.

Massa's father, Luis Antonio, said subsequently that it is possible the 35-year-old will keep racing next year at Le Mans, in DTM, or Formula E.

However, there have been reports Massa might join his compatriot Rubens Barrichello in the Brazilian stock car series.

But he told UOL Esporte: "I don't think Brazil will be an option for me to live or to race. Maybe just for fun, a race or two, but not a championship."

Massa lives with his family in Monaco, and he said: "There are other cool categories to race in, like WEC, DTM, maybe Formula E. I have time to think.

"I think I have much less pressure to decide, it just depends on me. I have no idea if I will race next year or not but it would have to be something in which I feel comfortable and that interests me," said Massa.

He also played down the possibility of staying in F1 in another capacity.

"I don't see myself working on the technical side of a team," said Massa, "or as a journalist. They are not things I ever dreamed of doing.

"What I can do is represent any brand, attend events. If I do something for TV, it will not be like a regular job, maybe a race here and there. Because it's not part of what I want to do now," he added.

09/01/16

Massa driving for Ferrari in 2007
Massa driving for Ferrari in 2007

This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Look for Vandoorne to replace Button at McLaren and Button to replace Felipe Massa at Williams. Felipe Massa has announced his retirement from formula one today as rumored.

The news was revealed during a press conference organized by his current team, Williams, at Monza ahead of the Italian grand prix.

Brazilian Massa, 35, debuted for Sauber in 2002 and won 11 grands prix for Ferrari.

"Every team I have been a part of has been a special experience, and not only in formula one," he said on Thursday.

"It will be an emotional day when I finally conclude my F1 career with my 250th grand prix start in Abu Dhabi."

09/01/16 The Williams team has scheduled a press conference today at Monza with Felipe Massa and Claire Williams in attendance. We expect to hear this will be Massa's last year with the team.

09/01/16

(GMM) Felipe Massa could find himself out of F1 and in Brazil's national stock car series in 2017.

That is the view of Brazilian journalist Flavio Gomes, who thinks 2016 has so far been "the worst season for Felipe at Williams" since he joined the team from Ferrari in 2014.

Williams has reportedly re-signed Valtteri Bottas for 2017, while Jenson Button or the well-sponsored Lance Stroll are in the running to be his teammate.

"I don't see Massa at Indy like (Rubens) Barrichello did, as he did not want to stop racing at all," Gomes told UOL Grande Premio.

"I think Felipe would tend more for stock car and fight for the title," he added.

Williams has been a force in F1 since 2014, but this year the Grove team has fallen not only behind the 'big three' teams, but also Force India, despite having a bigger budget than the Silverstone based outfit.

"Since the tire pressures increased everyone is suffering," 35-year-old Massa told Brazil's Globo Esporte, "but we are the most affected.

"They (Force India) are working much better with these tire pressures. The drivers were at certain points of the (Spa) race a second quicker than us," he added.

08/25/16

Massa's days appear numbered and he is afraid to drive an IndyCar
Massa's F1 days appear numbered and he is afraid to drive an IndyCar

(GMM) Felipe Massa has played down any claims he might keep his racing dream alive for 2017 by switching to Indycar.

As Williams reconsiders its next driver lineup, the Brazilian has said he needs a competitive seat in order to stay in F1 for a sixteenth season.

But Turun Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper, said the door to the works Renault team appears to have been closed to Massa, with the 35-year-old's manager Nicholas Todt and Renault chief Frederic Vasseur having fallen out.

"I'll do what is best for me next year," Massa is quoted as saying by correspondent Luis Vasconcelos.

"I'm not interested in just driving — I want to win races, or at least fight for the podium."

But he said switching to Indycar, where many of his Brazilian compatriots have found a home over the years, is not an option.

"I'm not at all keen about driving on ovals, because I think the risks are too high and the driver's influence is less than on a normal race track," he said.

The report claimed that representatives for Massa recently traveled to the Nurburgring round of the world endurance championship, but were not met with enthusiasm by manufacturers Porsche, Audi or Toyota.

07/24/16

Button's days at McLaren appear numbered
Button's days at McLaren appear numbered

(GMM) Jenson Button has given the biggest hint yet that he could be on the way out at McLaren-Honda.

The F1 veteran joined the Woking team in 2010 but McLaren now seems to be planning for the future and a race seat for Stoffel Vandoorne in 2017.

"I'm happy with my drivers," team boss Eric Boullier said at Silverstone, when asked what his fantasy driver lineup would be. "I've got Stoffel on the wing as well, so Stoffel," he added.

Button, 36, is linked with a potential return to Williams, where his career began in 2000, but he said at Silverstone that he also sees a future in rallycross or professional triathlon.

He indicated that his time at McLaren-Honda is now nearing its end.

"If I am racing next year, I will only be racing if I am in a car that is competitive," said Button.

"I have enjoyed the (Honda) journey the last year and a half but there is a point where you feel you have done enough and you can't give any more to the project to help it move forward," the Briton added.

"Hopefully, a little further into this season we (McLaren-Honda) will see where we are and hopefully it will be a good place to be, or somewhere else is a good place to be and I can challenge for podiums or victories."

06/20/16

Claire Williams eyes Button
Claire Williams eyes Button

Claire Williams has hinted that Jenson Button is one of the drivers the team is considering for a drive in 2017.

Button's future is set to come under scrutiny this year, as it did in 2014 and 2015, as McLaren's line-up is uncertain beyond this season. Though Fernando Alonso is contracted until 2017 Button's deal expires at the end of this year and the team has the highly-rated Stoffel Vandoorne waiting in the wings.

There is speculation of a return to Williams, where he started his career in 2000, and deputy team boss Williams refused to confirm or deny the suggestion in Baku.

"Button back at Williams' is a great headline," she told Sky Sports. "He started his career here, he's a world champion and extremely intelligent when it comes to building a team around him and helping the engineering side develop the car.

"Of course he is going to be an attractive proposition if he is available. But we are talking to a lot of drivers in the paddock at the moment — and he may or may not be on the list."

Despite admitting talking to other drivers about 2017, Williams insisted she is happy with current drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa and that both are part of those discussions.

"We are talking to them [Valtteri and Felipe] and we are having other conversations with other drivers in the paddock to see what other opportunities there are. But that's not to say we aren't happy with the job Valtteri and Felipe are doing. We have a great line-up, but no decision has been made. We just have to work through the conversations." espn.co.uk

06/06/16 (GMM) Felipe Massa says he is unfazed by speculation Jenson Button could replace him at Williams next year.

Button, now 36, made his F1 debut as a teenager in 2000 and now rumors suggest he could end his career at the Grove team, replacing Massa from 2017.

But the Briton, who currently drives for McLaren-Honda, is not commenting.

"I haven't even thought about the next race in Canada, let alone the next year," Speed Week quoted him as saying recently.

As for Massa, the 35-year-old – who in turn is being linked with a move to Renault (to replace Palmer) – said the Button rumors are not bothering him.

"We all know about rumors in formula one, and I am zero scared and worried about anything," he is quoted by Britain's Express newspaper.

"It would be nice to stay, but it would be nice to stay in a team where you really see that you can do a good job and have a good future. I am ready for everything," added Massa.

It is believed, however, that McLaren's decision to replace Button with Belgian hotshoe Stoffel Vandoorne has essentially already been taken.

But boss Eric Boullier denies that.

"No, we have not started negotiating with any driver," he is quoted by Speed Week. "It is still far too early for this question, which would be a distraction for the team."

06/03/16 (GMM) A Brazilian outlet says there are rumors Felipe Massa is in talks with Renault about a potential switch to the French works team for 2017.

With not only Jenson Button but also Daniil Kvyat linked with his seat at Williams for next year, F1 veteran Massa admitted in Monaco that with his contract expiring, the time was right to start "working on what the future holds".

"I have the chance to continue in Williams, yes, but also to negotiate with other teams," Massa added.

So Brazil's UOL Grande Premio said that with Renault currently fielding Kevin Magnussen alongside rookie Jolyon Palmer, the team might benefit from Massa's long experience as the sport transitions to new regulations for 2017.

"He is a driver who has been at Ferrari and has the experience of rebuilding a team like Williams," said journalist Juliana Tesser.

And Flavio Gomes, another correspondent, said Massa could play a role at Renault similar to the job done by the experienced Jenson Button at McLaren.

"The function for some of these older drivers is to help a team develop — to plant something that they will not harvest because they are getting close to the end of their career," he said.

A third Brazilian journalist, Vitor Fazio, agreed: "I do not think Felipe will be in F1 for another two years and Renault has said itself that it will only be competitive in three."

Will Button get sacked by McLaren after this year?

05/14/16 (GMM) 'Silly season' rumors about the futures of Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne are revving up in Barcelona.

When asked ahead of the Spanish grand prix if he would like to have the veteran Button as his 2017 teammate, Williams' Valtteri Bottas answered: "Yes."

But according to the Spanish daily Marca, a press officer immediately interrupted the Finn's interview, with Bottas agreeing: "I know for myself what rumors are like."

It is actually strongly rumored that Button, 36, came very close to switching to Williams for 2016, with McLaren-Honda only deciding to retain him late in the piece.

"It would be a lovely end to the Button story to go full circle," former F1 mechanic Marc Priestley said on the Sky program F1 Report, referring to the fact that, then just 20, Button made his debut for the Grove team in 2000.

Another strong paddock rumor is that McLaren has already decided to replace Button for 2017 with its young charger Stoffel Vandoorne.

"We have the priority choice on him," admitted team boss Eric Boullier, referring to the reigning GP2 champion and Belgian.

"But if there is no place for him here, we could consider lending him to another team."

When asked by the Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure if Renault might be an option for Vandoorne, reuniting him with his 2015 boss Frederic Vasseur, Boullier answered: "Why not?

"But it is too early to tell. Everything will move along when we have made our choice of drivers for 2017."

Vasseur, however, denied that Vandoorne could race for Renault next year.

"Despite all the friendship and esteem I have for Stoffel, it would not make sense to accept him from McLaren for one year.

"We cannot develop a driver for a year and then hand him to the competition," he insisted.

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