Cape Town - Several
reports are claiming that Felipe Massa is set to postpone his
retirement decision and stay at Williams, paving the way for Valtteri
Bottas' move to Mercedes in the new year.
BBC Sport an Sky sources are reporting the deal is all but done, and
that terms have been agreed in principle between Massa and Williams,
with Bottas then set to replace Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg
following his shock retirement.
Brazilian Massa had previously announced that the Abu Dhabi Grand
Prix would be his last F1 race, but appears to have been convinced to
stay on for another year.
Mercedes have made it clear there will be no announcement on
Rosberg's replacement before the new year, but it seems the secret is
Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams previously said they
would only let Bottas go if a suitable and experienced replacement could
be found to partner 18-year-old rookie Lance Stroll in 2017.
"If we did allow Valtteri to leave, we would only do this if an
experienced, credible alternative was available, such as someone like
Felipe Massa, for example," Williams said.
Should the deal for Bottas to join Mercedes fall through for any
reason, however, the contract between Massa and Williams will be
Williams have not officially commented on the latest reports, while
Massa's manager, Nicolas Todt would only say that "no agreement is in
place between Williams and Felipe Massa."
It is thought that the recent announcement by Williams that Pat
Symonds is standing down as their chief technical officer, paving the
way for Mercedes' technical chief Paddy Lowe to rejoin the outfit, is
part of the behind-the-scenes wrangling over a suitable compensation
package in exchange for Bottas' services.