Silly season in Formula 1 isn’t quite like it used to be. That’s not to say that it isn’t “silly” and it isn’t usually seasonal but with the prolific nature of the pay-driver scenario, many of the F1 seats are bought these days. Sure, it’s always existed but it does seem to be more prevalent these days.
Mercedes driver and championship leader Nico Rosberg has a contract ending at the end of this season along with Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen. Further down the grid, McLaren’s Jenson Button has a contract expiring as well as Williams F1’s Felipe Massa.
Much has been made of Felipe’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, and while I agree that he is a terrific driver, he hasn’t been showing me that he’s far superior to Massa. This season, Massa is leading the Finn in the championship and it does make you wonder what might be going on with contract renewal discussion over at Williams. Massa said they are talking about it:
“I’m definitely not losing time to understand what is going to happen next year.
“We are working on it and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Massa believes his experience, which includes eight seasons at Ferrari, can play a crucial part in aiding car development at a time of major rule change.
“I still believe it can be very important to have a driver who knows what to say,” he said.
“They know where to improve, which being honest is what I did in the last few years with Williams.
“Part of this improvement of this team is also totally related to my points, my experience and my help to make the car better and make the team better as well, which is what we saw in the last two years.”
There has been some talk/rumors that Williams may be interested in picking up Jenson Button and that would be a terrific bookend to his career by returning from whence he started. Is Massa the driver Williams should keep? He hasn’t been blown away by his teammate or should the team look for a change? Massa told AUTOSPORT that it is important to have a veteran in the seat but surely Bottas qualifies for that role? Is Massa sending thin messages that the team could be looking for a youngster to replace him such as Red Bull have with Max Verstappen?
If the team did hire Button, that’s as much experience as Maas offers but would it be less expensive? One thing that does catch my eye is Felipe’s comments, in the same article, about trying other sport such as DTM, WEC etc. That tells me that maybe he either knows his future or actually would like to do something different at this stage in his career. Sure, this is couched in the obligatory “only after F1” positioning but ultimately that could be sooner than later.
Williams have always been about Williams and Sir Frank hasn’t spent too much mental capital on drivers. Not that he doesn’t care and doesn’t understand the impact a great driver can have, it’s just that he knows that drivers come and go, the team on the other hand is here to stay.
There is also another chap who has F1 experience in the Williams stable in the form of Paul di Resta and as a reserve driver, perhaps he’s making a play at the seat? If you were Sir Frank of Claire Williams, who would you be looking at for the seat in 2017? Felipe? He’s made a pretty darned good case for himself in handling anything Valtteri has thrown at him.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT