Felipe Massa believed that his Formula 1 days were over when the chequered flag fell in the final race of 2016. However, the veteran racer was quickly recalled to the cockpit by Williams at the start of this year.
Now, the 36-year-old says he has no thoughts of retiring again any time soon. He sees no reason why he shouldn’t still be on the grid in 2018.
“I have no reason not to stay in Formula 1,” he told Motorsport.com. He explained that he’d actually benefited from his brief brush with retirement.
“I’m racing in a much more relaxed way and I’m happy with what I do in the car,” Massa said. “Not thinking about some other things that are sometimes inside your job just makes you more relaxed.
“Doing what I like to do, enjoying it and no pressure,” he added. “I was a little bit unlucky in a few races, but I’m enjoying it.
“I’m really in good shape, the way I’m driving, the way I understand the car and everything,” he said. “But we’ll see what’s going to happen.”
Massa was forced to sit out the Hungarian Grand Prix after complaining of feeling unwell. His place was taken at short notice by Williams test and development driver Paul di Resta.
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Although he did a commendable job as a last minute stand-in, di Resta is unlikely to be a threat to Massa’s seat in 2018. Nor does it seem that Williams is seriously considering rookie driver Luca Ghiotto, who drove for them in last week’s in-season test at the Hungaoring.
“Felipe is world champion material,” insisted the team’s chief technical officer Paddy Lowe. “I think if we could give Felipe the right car, he could go and get the job done.
“He is clearly very talented,” Lowe continued. “It’s a great pleasure to work with him and find out how he works … He’s fun to work with, and a very stable and dependable guy.”
Lowe added that Massa’s relationship mentoring Lance Stroll was also a key factor in deciding next year’s driver line-up.
“He’s a fantastic guy to work with,” he said. “Enthusiastic, friendly, very supportive of Lance and the learning that Lance needs to go through.”
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