Could Felipe Massa Drive for Renault in 2017?

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To say Williams Martini Racing has had a rough 2016 Formula 1 Season is an understatement. At this point last year Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa had one podium and combined had four finishes outside the top-10. This year only Bottas has had a podium finish, finishing third at the Canadian Grand Prix. Together they’ve had six finishes outside the top-10, one of which was a retirement from Massa. Last year the team was able to compete for a majority of the races and had 17 top-5 finishes. As of Hungary the team only has five top-5 finishes. Because of this, rumors are now circulating that Massa could drive for Renault F1 and that other drivers, from Fernando Alonso to Daniil Kyvat, are rumored to take his place.

Could Felipe Massa Drive for Renault in 2017?

Consider this about the Williams team: Massa has nine years on his teammate at 35 years old. For three years Bottas has been performing better than his teammate, with more points and podiums in that span. With one driver outperforming the other so easily, why not move on? The most likely landing place for Massa seems to be a team that could see huge improvements next year: Renault F1.

It’s understandable that people would look at this rumor and shake their heads. Why would such an experienced driver like Massa want to move down to a team like Renault? Renault is a team that could have a very strong 2017 or 2018 season. Renault took over assets from the 2015 Lotus F1 outfit and while they have struggled this year they have produced one top-10 finish when Kevin Magnussen finished 7th at Russia. The team also debuted an updated power unit at Monaco that has put them just outside the top-10 in some races. Those results aren’t necessarily bad when compared to Manor and Sauber, two teams that have competed for over a year and still have troubles getting out of Q3 and outside the top-15 during races.

The Value of Experience

Consider also that they need an experienced driver instead of two young drivers in the car. Renault saw Joylon Palmer literally spin away his first top-10 finish in Hungary. If Felipe Massa goes to Renault, they would get a driver that knows what to do behind the wheel and one that doesn’t crack under pressure. In a recent interview, Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team boss, revealed that even though Renault’s power unit is 35 kilowatts slower than Mercedes AMG, they “know the plans [Renault] have in place to close the gap.”

One team has struggled after two years of relative success while another has improved over the course of the season with an improved engine and plan on continuing to develop their power units. One team might be looking for a younger driver while another needs more experience and to help develop new drivers. If Massa does leave Williams F1, it seems as though his best option would be to help another team get ready for the future, and that team is Renault F1.


Main Photo: HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY – JULY 20:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams looks on before the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 20, 2014 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Drew Gibson/Getty Images)