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Everything you need to know for Saturday’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte

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Winning Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race won’t earn drivers a ticket to this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup or even any championship points.

But a $1 million winner’s prize and bragging rights at Charlotte Motor Speedway – the home track for many in the stock car industry – should ensure that they’ll be plenty motivated to go all-out.

19 drivers are already set for the All-Star Race, with three more coming through Friday’s Sprint Showdown (the top two finishers transfer to the All-Star) and a fan vote.

Qualifying consists of a three-lap run for each driver that must feature a four-tire stop; pit road speed limits will not be in effect. As for the main event, it will be made up of five segments – the first four running for 20 laps each, and the final one running for 10 laps.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the notes and numbers to keep in mind going into the weekend.

NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford)
· Two top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 13.5
· Average Running Position of 10.5, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 78.4, 12th-best
· 34 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 211 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.280 mph, ninth-fastest
· 581 Laps in the Top 15 (69.2%), 10th-most
· 183 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 10.3
· Average Running Position of 8.7, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 86.4, fifth-best
· 48 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 267 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.310 mph, seventh-fastest
· 676 Laps in the Top 15 (80.5%), fifth-most
· 246 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Three top fives, four top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.3
· Series-best Average Running Position of 6.5
· Series-best Driver Rating of 110.3
· 80 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 180.575 mph
· 639 Laps in the Top 15 (85.2%), seventh-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· One win, three top fives, five top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.1
· Average Running Position of 10.4, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 82.8, sixth-best
· 59 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.187 mph, 10th-fastest
· 586 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), eighth-most
· 178 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Three wins, six top fives, nine top 10s
· Average finish of 9.7
· Average Running Position of 8.8, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 81.6, eighth-best
· 53 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 282 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.684 mph, fifth-fastest
· Series-high 776 Laps in the Top 15 (92.4%)
· 258 Quality Passes, third-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet)
· Four wins, eight top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 6.2
· Average Running Position of 6.9, second-best
· Driver Rating of 106.3, second-best
· Series-high 143 Fastest Laps Run
· 275 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 180.223 mph, second-fastest
· 735 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%), second-most
· 248 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet)
· One win, two top fives, four top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.5
· Average Running Position of 10.9, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 79.7, ninth-best
· 43 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 284 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.366 mph, sixth-fastest
· 586 Laps in the Top 15 (69.8%), eighth-most
· 243 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota)
· One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s; two poles
· Average finish of 6.5
· Average Running Position of 8.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.3, third-best
· 44 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 286 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.295 mph, eighth-fastest
· 692 Laps in the Top 15 (82.4%), fourth-most
· 253 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford)
· Two top fives, three top 10s
· Average finish of 4.3
· Average Running Position of 8.4, third-best
· Driver Rating of 87.3, fourth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 179.726 mph, fourth-fastest

Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Bass Pro Chevrolet)
· Average finish of 14.8
· Average Running Position of 12.7
· Driver Rating of 63.5, 23rd-best
· 211 Green Flag Passes
· 391 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%)

Ryan Newman (No. 31 CAT-Quicken Loans Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 9.6
· Average Running Position of 9.5, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 79.1, 11th-best
· 21 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 304 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· 710 Laps in the Top 15 (84.5%), third-most
· 266 Quality Passes, second-most

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet)
· Average finish of 12.5
· Average Running Position of 14.8
· Driver Rating of 64.6, 21st-best
· 128 Green Flag Passes
· 184 Laps in the Top 15 (49.7%)

Brian Vickers (No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota)
· One top five, one top 10
· Average finish of 9.3
· Driver Rating of 79.6, 10th-best
· 64 Green Flag Passes
· 113 Laps in the Top 15 (66.5%)

source:

Charlotte Motor Speedway Data
Track Size: 1.5 miles
· Banking Turns: 24 degrees
· Banking/Frontstretch: 5 degrees
· Banking/Backstretch: 5 degrees
· Frontstretch: 1,980 feet
· Backstretch: 1,500 feet

Top 10 All-Star Driver Ratings
Kyle Busch…………………………. 110.3
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 106.3
Matt Kenseth………………………… 88.3
Joey Logano………………………… 87.3
Kurt Busch……………………………. 86.4
Carl Edwards………………………… 82.8
Joe Nemechek………………………. 82.4
Jeff Gordon………………………….. 81.6
Kasey Kahne………………………… 79.7
Brian Vickers………………………… 79.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 NASCAR Sprint All-Star races (nine total).

2013 Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 90.672 mph, (01:29:20), 05-18-13
Margin of Victory: 1.722 seconds

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Wins List
1985 – Darrell Waltrip
1986 – Bill Elliott
1987 – Dale Earnhardt
1988 – Terry Labonte
1989 – Rusty Wallace
1990 – Dale Earnhardt
1991, 1992 – Davey Allison
1993 – Dale Earnhardt
1994 – Geoff Bodine
1995 – Jeff Gordon
1996 – Michael Waltrip
1997 – Jeff Gordon
1998 – Mark Martin
1999 – Terry Labonte
2000 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2001 – Jeff Gordon
2002 – Ryan Newman
2003 – Jimmie Johnson
2004 – Matt Kenseth
2005 – Mark Martin
2006 – Jimmie Johnson
2007 – Kevin Harvick
2008 – Kasey Kahne
2009 – Tony Stewart
2010 – Kurt Busch
2011 – Carl Edwards
2012 – Jimmie Johnson
2013 – Jimmie Johnson

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Notebook
· There have been 29 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Races.
· The first NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was in 1985.
· 28 have been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 1986, the event was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and won by Bill Elliott. That season was also the first year for what is now known as the Sprint Showdown.
· 91 drivers have run in at least one NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, with 76 competing in more than one.
· Mark Martin has participated in 24 races, more than any other driver. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in Sprint All-Star starts with 20, followed by Tony Stewart with 15.
· There have been 19 different winners of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Jimmie Johnson (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013) leads the series with the most NASCAR Sprint All-Star race wins with four.
· Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990 and 1993) and Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997 and 2001) are three-time winners of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in 1985 at 161.184 mph.
· The race has featured a field that ranged from 10 drivers in 1986 to 27 in 2002. This year’s field will have 22 participants.
· Davey Allison (1991 and 1992), Terry Labonte (1988 and 1999) and Mark Martin (1998 and 2005) are the only other drivers to post multiple victories in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Davey Allison (1991, 1992) and Jimmie Johnson (2012, 2013) are the only drivers to ever win consecutive Sprint All-Star events.
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000) and Ryan Newman (2002) are the only drivers to win the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in their rookie season.
· Jeff Gordon is the youngest winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at 23 years, 9 months and 18 days (1995). Mark Martin is the oldest at 46 years, 4 months and 12 days (2005).
· Joey Logano (three starts) leads the series among active drivers with an average finish of 4.3 in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Eight drivers including Joey Logano, have an average finish in the top 10 for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race: Jimmie Johnson (6.2), Matt Kenseth (6.5), Tony Stewart (8.2), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8.3), Brian Vickers (9.3), Ryan Newman (9.6) and Jeff Gordon (9.7).
· Terry Labonte won the inaugural Coors Light pole for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race in 1985.
· 16 drivers have won Coors Light poles for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race, led by Bill Elliott with five. Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with three. Carl Edwards won last season’s pole.
· Three drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race: Davey Allison (1991, 1992) Bill Elliott (1997, 1998) and Kyle Busch (2011, 2012).
· The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race has been won from the pole position four times; the first three came in consecutive years: Dale Earnhardt (1990) and Davey Allison (1991 and 1992). Kurt Busch posted the fourth win from the pole in 2010.
· The front row starting positions are the two most proficient starting positions in the field, producing more winners (four each) than any other starting positions in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.
· Eight of the 29 (27.5%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from the front row: four from the pole and four from second-place.
· 21 of the 29 (72.4%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Two of the 29 (6.8%) NASCAR Sprint All-Star races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner has started was 27th, by Ryan Newman in 2002.
· Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won eight NASCAR Sprint All-Star races: Jimmie Johnson (four), Jeff Gordon (three) and Terry Labonte (one).
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race with nine; followed by Tony Stewart (eight) and Jimmie Johnson (eight).
· Bill Elliott leads the series in top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race with 13; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with 11 each.
· Five drivers have won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same year: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001) and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013).
· In 2008, Kasey Kahne became the first driver to get into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race by the Sprint Fan Vote and go on to win the event.
· Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following weekend: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
· The record for lead changes in a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race is 10 in 2004.
· The record for different leaders in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race is nine in 2002.
· The series best Driver Rating performance by a NASCAR Sprint All-Star race winner was Carl Edwards posting a 141.7 in 2011.

Franchitti praises INDYCAR’s direction with ’18 renders, urges series not to rush Halo

ST PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 29:  Former driver Dario Franchitti of Scotland stands on pit wall prior to qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 29, 2014 in St Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
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BIRMINGHAM, UK – Dario Franchitti has praised INDYCAR’s plans to revamp the bodykits used in the Verizon IndyCar Series from 2018, calling the series’ direction “fabulous”.

Franchitti raced in IndyCar between 1997 and 2013, claiming four championships with Chip Ganassi Racing before being forced to call time on his career after sustaining injuries in a crash at Houston. The Scotsman remains heavily involved with the series as an advisor to the Ganassi team.

Following INDYCAR’s release of the first car renders for 2018, Franchitti was quick to praise the series’ officials for moving away from the “ugly” aerokits currently being used.

“The drawing of the rending is just that right now, but the direction they’re going in is fabulous,” Franchitti told NBC Sports at Autosport International.

“I talked to Jay Frye quite a bit about what I felt was wrong with the current body kit.

“And I believe that all the drivers sung from the same song sheet of wanting more underbody downforce, get rid of all this top side nonsense. Make the cars look a bit better again, because the car has got quite ugly.

“I have to say that his team have listened to everybody. They know the direction they want to go in now. I think it’s going to be good.”

Part of INDYCAR’s five-year plan discussed in Detroit included further discussions regarding the introduction of cockpit protection, with the Halo device tested in Formula 1 on the table.

“I think everybody is looking at [Halo], but it has to be done in the right way,” Franchitti said.

“We’re here in the UK, it makes you think of Dan and Justin. We lost both of those guys to head injuries. Would they have survived with a Halo? Who knows.

“But if it’s going to be done, it’s got to be done right. And there are so many unintended consequences when you do that.

“You don’t want to rush into it, but you want to introduce it as quickly as possible.”

Franchitti also previewed the 2017 IndyCar season, set to start in St. Petersburg on March 12, and is intrigued to see how the fight between defending champion team Penske and Honda-returnee Ganassi plays out, as well as how a number of drivers fare with new teams.

“The driver market a wee bit obviously with Sato to Andretti, Newgarden to Penske, the Foyt guys have changed around,” Franchitti said.

“Bourdais has gone to Dale Coyne. Dale Coyne seems to have really strengthened his team.

“And then us with the Ganassi team going back to Honda. There are some big changes there. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

“That’s going to be the interesting fact because last year the two big teams had Chevy. Now it’s split. It’s going to be fascinating how it all plays out.

“We’ve tested the car. I can’t say much about it, but it will be an interesting season.”

Timeline: Tracking six weeks that flipped the 2017 F1 driver market

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 27:  Valtteri Bottas of Finland driving the (77) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo and Felipe Massa of Brazil driving the (19) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW38 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo on track  during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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The waiting is finally over. After six or so weeks of speculation, rumors and theories about who might replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas was finally unveiled by the team as its second Formula 1 driver for 2017 on Monday.

Bottas’ arrival from Williams has been expected since about the middle of December, making the news hardly surprising. Nevertheless, it is still highly significant.

With Pascal Wehrlein joining Sauber and Felipe Massa due to return at Williams, the driver market is – for now – complete. We still wait for news on Manor’s future after it entered administration earlier this month.

Can’t remember all that has happened since Nico dropped the mic and walked away from F1? Here’s a timeline of events to refresh your memory.

November 27 – Nico Rosberg clinches his maiden F1 world title in Abu Dhabi, finishing second in the race to win the championship by five points. Felipe Massa makes what was planned to be his final F1 start.

December 2 – Rosberg announces his immediate retirement from F1 in a press conference ahead of the FIA gala in Vienna, Austria.

December 3 – Mercedes non-executive director Niki Lauda says he has received calls from half the F1 grid enquiring about Rosberg’s seat.

December 4 – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel dismisses the suggestion he could leave Ferrari and take Rosberg’s seat for 2017. Lewis Hamilton claims he’s not chasing number one status at Mercedes following Rosberg’s departure.

December 6 – Mercedes F1 chief Toto Wolff admits the team has to consider Fernando Alonso for the vacant seat, but hints a deal for 2017 would be unlikely.

December 8 – Mercedes posts a tongue-in-cheek advert in Autosport magazine regarding its driver vacancy for 2017.

December 9 – Former manager and long-term confidante of Alonso, Flavio Briatore, says that the Spaniard will not take Rosberg’s seat.

December 11 – Hamilton and Wolff enjoy an “amazing” meeting regarding plans for the 2017 season. Hamilton says Mercedes will have “the strongest partnership” to defend its titles. BBC Sport reports that Valtteri Bottas is Mercedes’ prime target and has already tabled an offer for the Finn.

December 13 – Alonso tells the entire McLaren team at its base in England that he remains committed to the project, ending speculation about a possible move.

December 14 – Williams’ Pat Symonds says that keeping Bottas is “crucial” to the team’s future success.

December 15 – Mercedes confirms that it will make no announcement regarding Rosberg’s replacement until January 3 at the earliest. Claire Williams says that Williams was open to letting Bottas leave, relying it could find a suitable replacement.

December 16 – Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner says he would not allow junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr. to take Rosberg’s seat.

December 20 – Reports suggest that Massa has agreed to come out of retirement and return to Williams for 2017, paving the way for Bottas to leave the team.

December 30 – Massa posts on Instagram that he is back “training hard” in America.

January 3 – The earliest date for an announcement from Mercedes passes.

January 4 – Mercedes confirms it will launch its 2017 F1 car, the W08, at Silverstone on February 23.

January 6 – Manor – the team Wehrlein raced for last year – enters administration, raising doubts over the team’s future and place on the 2017 grid.

January 15 – Claire Williams says she expects to make an announcement about Bottas’ future within a week.

January 16 – Pascal Wehrlein is officially announced by Sauber; photos of Bottas in Mercedes team gear leak online; Williams confirms Massa will return; finally, Bottas is announced officially at Mercedes.

Valtteri Bottas joins Mercedes F1 for 2017 season as Rosberg’s replacement

Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico.
Sunday 30 October 2016.
Valtteri Bottas, Williams Martini Racing.
Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams
ref: Digital Image _X4I0171
© Williams Martini Racing
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Valtteri Bottas has officially joined Mercedes AMG Petronas ahead of the 2017 Formula 1 season, replacing World Champion Nico Rosberg.

The long-expected announced was made by Mercedes on Monday, putting an end to six weeks of speculation in the wake of Rosberg’s decision to walk away from F1.

It followed two other announcements made the same morning, with Pascal Wehrlein going to Sauber and, more importantly for Mercedes’ case, Williams Martini Racing’s release of Bottas to Mercedes and confirmation Felipe Massa would come back for one more year.

Mercedes still managed to have fun with the now worst-kept secret in F1, building up the “suspense” on Twitter:

And then Mercedes made it official, via a live video from its factory in Brackley.

Bottas joins Mercedes for his fifth season in F1, having raced with Williams since 2013 and recorded a best finish of fourth in the drivers’ championship in 2014.

The Finn led Williams to third place in the constructors’ championship in 2014 and 2015, scoring nine podium finishes during his time with the team.

Mercedes had been due to field an unchanged line-up of Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton in 2017, only for Rosberg to announce his immediate retirement from racing five days after winning his maiden F1 title in Abu Dhabi.

The news sent the F1 driver market into a late flux, with Bottas appearing towards the top of Mercedes’ shortlist alongside its in-house junior driver Pascal Wehrlein.

Mercedes decided against promoting Wehrlein due to his inexperience, having only completed one season in F1, leaving Bottas as its prime target.

Bottas had re-signed with Williams for 2017, rejecting a move to Renault, and had been set to partner 18-year-old Lance Stroll during his rookie campaign.

Mercedes’ first approach for Bottas included Wehrlein as part of the deal, only for Williams to reject the German on account of his inexperience and the need to have at least one driver over the age of 25, as per a requirement for title sponsor Martini.

Williams found a solution by luring Felipe Massa out of retirement, the Brazilian having raced for the British team since 2014.

Massa said an emotional farewell to F1 in Abu Dhabi, but is now set to return for at least one more season to help the team develop its new car, the FW40, during a period of regulation change.

With Massa agreeing to return for 2017, Williams gave the green light for Bottas to join Mercedes, ending the six-week waiting game that had played out.

Having missed out on seats at Mercedes and Williams, Wehrlein is now due to race for Sauber in 2017, replacing Felipe Nasr at the Swiss team.

The only remaining seats on the F1 grid for 2017 are at Manor, which is yet to confirm either of its drivers amid ongoing takeover talks with American-Mexican investor Tavo Hellmund.

2017 Formula 1 driver line-ups

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton/Valtteri Bottas
Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo/Max Verstappen
Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel/Kimi Raikkonen
Force India: Sergio Perez/Esteban Ocon
Williams: Felipe Massa*/Lance Stroll
McLaren: Fernando Alonso/Stoffel Vandoorne
Toro Rosso: Carlos Sainz Jr./Daniil Kvyat
Haas: Romain Grosjean/Kevin Magnussen
Sauber: Marcus Ericsson/Pascal Wehrlein
Manor: TBA/TBA

Felipe Massa backtracks on F1 retirement, confirms Williams return for ’17

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 13:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams stands with a Brazilian flag for his last home Grand Prix with his son Felipinho on the drivers parade before the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Less than six weeks after making what was set to be his final start in Formula 1, Felipe Massa has confirmed his return to the grid for 2017 with Williams, on a one-year deal.

The news was announced by the team on Monday, completing its line-up for the 2017 campaign ahead of the season-opener in Australia on March 26.

“Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve,” Massa said. “Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula One campaign, it felt like the right thing to do. I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40. The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I’m grateful for that. I also look forward to working with Lance; I’ve known him for many years and seen his talent develop during that time, so I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Claire Williams, deputy team principal, added the experience Massa will bring should help the team this season.

“I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign. With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current Constructors’ Champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity,” she said.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to. He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go. Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.

Massa, 35, announced in September that he would be retiring from F1 racing at the end of the 2016 season, making way for 18-year-old Lance Stroll to take his seat alongside Valtteri Bottas at Williams.

Massa made what would have been his final start in Abu Dhabi, having said an emotional farewell to his home fans in Brazil two weeks earlier in some of the most powerful scenes of the 2016 season.

However, following Nico Rosberg’s shock decision to retire from F1 just five days after winning his maiden world title, Mercedes identified Bottas as its primary target to replace the German.

Williams was offered a discount on power units and the services of Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein in return for releasing Bottas from his contract for 2017, but rejected the proposal.

Williams stressed it wanted a racer more experienced that Wehrlein – an F1 sophomore for the coming season – to aid the development of its new car through the change in technical regulations for 2017. The team also requires at least one driver over the age of 25 to satisfy sponsor Martini, an alcohol brand.

Williams instead turned to Massa and put together a deal to bring the Brazilian out of retirement for 2017 that was accepted in the lead up to the holiday season.

Following Jenson Button’s decision to step back from an F1 seat for 2017, Massa will be the third-most experienced driver on the grid for the forthcoming season, with Australia due to be his 251st race start.

Of the active drivers racing in F1, only Fernando Alonso (278) and Kimi Raikkonen (251) have made more appearances than Massa.