Felipe Massa joins Williams as team-mate to Valtteri Bottas in 2014
A fillip for Felipe and Brazil as he finds a new seat after Ferrari exit; Pastor Maldonado leaves Williams for destination unknown
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 18/11/13 5:20pm
Outgoing Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has been handed a F1 lifeline after signing a deal to join Williams for 2014 as a replacement for Pastor Maldonado.
The Brazilian, dropped by the Scuderia after eight years of service in favour of Kimi Raikkonen, has put pen to paper on a 'multi-year' contract with the Grove outfit to partner Valtteri Bottas.
"He is an exceptional talent and a real fighter on the race track," enthused team boss Sir Frank Williams. "He also brings a wealth of experience as we begin a new chapter in our story."
The news ensures that F1 is guaranteed to have a Brazilian presence on the grid next term with Massa, who came within a whisker of winning the 2008 Drivers' Championship, following a path already familiar to a number of his compatriots in joining Williams.
"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," said Massa, who also revealed he held talks with McLaren, Lotus, Force India and Sauber before opting to transfer to Williams.
After returning to winning ways last year at the Spanish GP after a decade-long absence from the winner's enclosure, Williams have endured a wretched campaign, scoring just a solitary point. Nevertheless, hopes are already high for a more competitive season in 2014, in which the team will be powered by Mercedes engines - expected to be the grid leader - and overseen from the pitwall by Pat Symonds, Williams' recently-appointed Chief Technical Officer.
Massa's arrival is likely to spark further reshuffling, with Rob Smedley, the Brazilian's long-time race engineer, widely tipped to follow the 32-year-old to Williams in a new technical role.
According to Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, confirmation of the team's driver line-up for next season is merely "part of a number of announcements we will be making over the coming weeks."
After months of behind-the-scenes haggling and jockeying for position, it also appears as if the remaining pieces in the 2014 driver line-up jigsaw are finally falling into place. The sponsorship-laden Maldonado is expected to join Sauber, with Nico Hulkenberg seemingly in pole position to take Raikkonen's place at Lotus.
That leaves McLaren as the burning topic of conversation inside the paddock, following the revelation that the team are seriously considering replacing Sergio Perez with Kevin Magnussen.