Williams retains Massa and Bottas for 2015 F1 season


MONZA, ITALY – Williams Martini Racing has confirmed that both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will be remaining with the team for the 2015 Formula 1 season.

In a press conference ahead of today’s Italian Grand Prix, team founder Sir Frank Williams presented both drivers to the media and was delighted to announce the news.

“Both of our drivers are very hard working, and understand who the competition is,” he said. “Beating the best is very, very difficult, but with our driver pairing, we will be strong in the constructors’ championship, and both of our two drivers could be world champion next year.

“That’s our announcement: both of our drivers will be staying with us next season. I’m delighted personally. This is really a triumph for us I think.”

Williams has turned its fortunes around in 2014, bouncing back from one of its worst ever campaigns. After scoring just five points in the entirety of last year, the team currently ranks fourth in the constructors’ championship, and is in the race to finish ahead of bigger teams such as Ferrari and McLaren.

For Massa, this announcement confirms that he will enjoy a second season with the team following his move from Ferrari at the end of last year.

“It’s fantastic to be part of the Williams team,” the Brazilian said. “It’s an amazing team with fantastic people. It’s like a family.

“It’ll be fantastic to do another championship next year and we are preparing to make this team stronger and stronger, bigger and bigger and I’m sure we can do a great job for the second part of the championship this year fighting with four teams.”

Valtteri Bottas has been one of the breakout stars of the 2014 season, scoring four podium finishes and producing some stunning drives that reportedly caught the eye of McLaren. However, the Finn will not be on the move for 2015.

“First of all I’m really, really happy to continue with the team for next year. With Williams, I got the opportunity to get to Formula 1, so I’m very pleased [the team] gave me the opportunity.

“Why is it good to stay? Why not? We are on the right way. We have made a big step from last year. The team has a really good future and we are not yet at the peak.

“Williams has in the past many, many years at the top, so I’m really confident we can do it again it again, so I’m really looking forward to next year.”

With this announcement, the 2015 F1 driver market begins to become a bit clearer. Reports had linked Bottas with a move away from the team, whilst the likes of Jenson Button and Felipe Nasr were rumored to be in the running for a seat at Williams.

However, it now looks even more likely that the status quo from 2014 in the top teams will remain for next season.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.