Welcome back Felipe Massa, barely had time to miss you, so dry those eyes little trooper it’s back into the F1 cauldron you go! As we all know, Felipe had decided to retire from F1 at the end of last year and I was never convinced it was completely with a full heart to do so. For a guy who had spent his time mainly in top line equipment his options were very slim and any hope of really getting competitive results again even slimmer so I think this, more than his lack of desire to drive the cars, was the main instigator in the move.
We all would give our right arms to be able to get to drive one of those machines but when you’ve been there and done that for as long as he had, its more the competition rather than just the thrill of the ride that keeps you motivated. Most of us wrote this guy off a few years ago and figured a move to what was then a very lowly Williams team just a temporary stop on his way out the door, but lo and behold the Williams team became competitive and he was more than able to hold his own against the Finnish flash Bottas. That is until last year when Bottas became dominant over his Brazilian counterpart.
So what now? Not only is he coming back he is now going to be the No.1 driver, this I think can really recharge him, his ego has been stroked and he will truly be leading this team’s attack as we embark on the fatty tyre era.
Also I’m sure this will be his last year and he knows it from the beginning rather than speculation of what will of won’t happen so he can focus completely on the job at hand. He has a massive amount of experience which will help move the car forward in development, he might not quite have the speed he had but experience will probably be more valuable this year with so much changing.
He will be a busy boy also as he teaches the ropes to new boy Lance Stroll, I don’t know Lance’s personality but he would do well to listen to Uncle Felipe who will be one of the best mentors he could get.
So Felipe, I think, will be a tick better than he showed last year and if the Williams chassis is up to the job I think he could get some results fairly close to the podium on occasion, he will be able to be more relaxed which I think brings out the best in him as well as the pride in leading a team such as Williams.
Son of billionaire racing nut Lawrence Stroll, Lance has had a few hard jabs sent his way and the “pay driver” moniker has well and truly been pinned to his back, ripe for kicking.
He certainly has had the luxury of the very best of everything from equipment to opportunity, his Dad even created a series in Florida in 2014 with the help of Ferrari to give him a competitive place to race close to home during the winter (Max Vestappen and NBCs Will Buxton also appeared in the series!). Also he purchased the F3 Prema Powerteam that he went on to win the European crown with so he could better control his destiny (and perhaps his team mates).
Lets face it, all would-be racing drivers use everything within their means to get themselves to the top be it a famous last name, Mr moneybags for a dad or just plain grafting & grifting. We may not have even heard of the name Senna had it not been for the fact his parents had a fair amount of cash to get him on his way so lets put this aside for now.
There really is nowhere to hide for Lance in F1 so we will see just how good he is, certainly the experience of winning will do him no harm but that adjustment of not having more than anyone else will take some adjustment. Hopefully he has been educated well in the realities and necessities that are needed to fight for every 1/10th on track and he would do well to open his ears to his experienced teammate and soak in as much as he can.
With Felipe’s support, he is probably in F1 for a very long time so patience would be a very good virtue so he can run as many laps as he can and see how these races evolve. He obviously has talent but I’m not sure right now where in the pecking order he lays due to his “protected” past experience but there’s no reason to think he can’t score points and bring some results to the Williams team who I’m sure are setting that 4th position in the championship as a minimum goal for 2017, they have a great wealth of experience and talent within the team that is perfect for a young rookie to use in his favour.