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Is Felipe Massa the new Williams team principal?

There is some logic to my crazy speculation, so bear with me...

2w ago

8.6K

I know what you're thinking. You've seen this title and been like "what are you talking about Robert? How could Felipe Massa be the new Williams team principal? Are you absolutely out of your mind?" Well, I fully admit that I could be totally barking up the wrong tree. You might want to hear me out though, because there are some things that have come up recently that have been pretty interesting...

When Felipe Massa signed for Rokit Venturi Racing back in 2018 to race in Formula E, he signed a three-year deal. Pretty normal, right? Except he didn't fulfil his three years. Actually, he retired from Formula E after only racing in two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20) and cryptically announced in his statement that he would be announcing his next career move "in due course". He's given us no further indication of what he's been up to since then but, whatever it is, it's got to be a huge deal for him to terminate his three-year contract with Rokit Venturi Racing early. Massa officially left Rokit Venturi Racing on 13th August 2020. Not even a month later, we got the announcement that the Williams family was stepping away from the Williams racing team. This, my friends, is where things get very, very spicy...

Look at how close it's been in terms of dates between Massa announcing his retirement from Formula E and Claire Williams announcing that the Williams family were leaving the team. That short of a timespan between the two seemingly separate announcements could just be a coincidence, sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they're both linked. The Williams family would have definitely been laying out the team's future with Dorilton Capital or another potential new owner of the team around early-mid August, as the deal with Dorilton Capital was officially closed on 21st August. If we take a look at Claire Williams' comments to Sky Sports about the exit of the family from the team, it's pretty clear that she had absolutely no intentions of staying on into the team's new ownership regardless of who owned the team next. They would have needed a new team principal pronto.

This is where Massa comes in. Yes, Massa doesn't have any real experience as a team principal in an F1 team (yes, he is the FIA-CIK president, but that's a whole different ball game). What he does have though is a supreme knowledge of F1 and of the Williams team, having been an F1 driver for well over a decade for various different teams (most notably at Ferrari from 2006-2013) and a driver who completed his swansong seasons at Williams. He's also a very well-liked and well-respected figure in general when it comes to the sport. He's an F1 legend now and his wealth of knowledge and experience that he gained from fighting with the best of the best, wheel-to-wheel at times, would be absolutely invaluable for the revamped Williams team. Also, imagine how George Russell and Nicholas Latifi, two drivers who are from a slightly younger generation than me who would have grown up idolising Massa as a driver during his Ferrari era, would feel getting to race under him? It would be an absolute dream come true for both of them!

That aside though, if the talks about who would replace Claire Williams were going on during the early-mid August period and Massa was the designated successor, he would have definitely had to be involved in the talks and, most crucially, he would have had to trigger whatever clauses there are in his Venturi contract that would allow him to end it early so he could assume a role at another team as quickly as possible. It's not known whether Massa had to pay a buyout clause or similar to terminate his contract early, but what is certain is that what Massa has done with his contract isn't exactly unusual for somebody to do when a good-old "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse" has been placed on the table for him. Is that what's actually happened? Well, Massa isn't talking beyond his statement so we don't know what the truth is yet.

This is pure speculation on my part and nothing but pure speculation, so take everything with a rather large pinch of salt. But firstly, it's worth giving a thought and secondly, don't forget that somehow I managed to predict Fernando Alonso's F1 return so I'm not completely stupid at predicting things. Could we really be seeing Felipe Massa returning to the F1 paddock, this time as a team boss? It would be a very risky and out of left-field move for sure. Massa's ability as a team principal is completely unproven. The thing is though, with the final remnants of the old Williams team packing up and going and the team still languishing at the back of the grid even with a much better car than it had last year, it might be the right kind of situation for Williams to take such a massive gamble. Like many things when it comes to motorsport and especially during these very weird times, we'll just have to wait and see until the reveal of the new team principal is made. That's supposed to be at some point before Mugello, so I'll be waiting for that period pretty impatiently to see what's going to happen!

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