There is more to come from Williams after the team announced Felipe Massa would replace Pastor Maldonado for 2014.
While the news of Massa’s appointment was largely expected it marks an interesting move from the Grove team who will now lose the €40m per season in backing from Maldonado’s sponsor PDVSA. What is also known is that the Venezuelan oil giant had to pay big to end their contract with the team two years early.
“It (the branding) won’t be on the car for next year,” Claire Williams told Reuters on Monday.
“I think when our numbers come out next year, people will see what has actually gone on behind the scenes with this whole arrangement,” she added.
Despite the rumours Massa has not announced any backing himself and at the announcement both Felipe and Williams were keen to stress the 2008 runner-up was not arriving as a ‘pay driver’.
Though what is believed is that Williams want to use the rising Brazilian economy to find new sponsors and replace the money lost by the Maldonado switch in the longer term.
“I think Brazil is one of the sport’s biggest markets, so it’s really up to us to go out and commercialise Felipe as our driver,” said Claire Williams.
Brazil’s veteran F1 correspondent O Estada de S.Paulo’s Livio Oricchio believes that while the deal eventually happened, the rumours behind the Massa to Williams move were drummed up to tempt possible Brazilian backers.
Though Massa’s manager Nicolas Todt also said the 32-year-old’s experience from 8 seasons at Ferrari were also a key part of the deal.
“They saw the opportunity to have an experienced and winning driver, still young at 32,” said the Frenchman.
“Williams wants to renew itself, they need motivated people, so Felipe will bring a great motivation for them,” added Todt.
“And for Felipe it was very important to feel wanted.”
Todt himself admitted his part in the negotiations was complex as he is the manager of both Massa and Maldonado, but speaking about the Venezuelan he says there is possible news to come before the end of the month.
“We should have news later this month. Pastor has lost none of the support he had before,” he said.
Williams said both Massa, and his Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas, have ‘multi-year’ contracts.
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