DTM, WEC, Formula E on Massa’s radar for 2017

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Felipe Massa is open to moves into DTM, Formula E or the FIA World Endurance Championship for 2017 after announcing his retirement from Formula 1 at the end of the current season.

Massa confirmed over the Italian Grand Prix weekend that he would be calling time on his 15-year stint in F1 at the end of 2016, freeing up a seat at Williams.

Massa has no plans to walk away from motorsport, though, expressing an interest in getting a race seat for 2017.

The Brazilian had been linked with a move into either IndyCar or the Brazilian stock car series, both of which were raced in by Rubens Barrichello following his F1 retirement at the end of 2011.

However, Massa is planning to keep his racing commitments based in Europe, with three series on his radar.

“I have some people [interested in signing me] but I just need a bit of time to think about it and to decide in the best way,” Massa told reporters in Singapore.

“I will race. I just need to understand what will be the right choice [so] that I will keep enjoying [racing] and having fun.

“I don’t think it will be stock cars. Not IndyCar.

“I think maybe it will be DTM, WEC, Formula E – maybe one of these three I think.”

Massa has connections to all three championships and would act as a big name driver for each one, making a move into any of them possible.

Massa’s current team, Williams, has worked closely with Formula E throughout its short life span so far, supplying batteries to the entire grid via its Williams Advanced Engineering arm.

WAE has also worked with Jaguar ahead of its arrival into the series for season three, but with the Formula E grid seemingly full until the end of the new campaign in middle of 2017, such a move may prove tricky for Massa.

Williams enjoys a power unit supply from German manufacturer Mercedes, which enjoys heavy involvement in DTM.

Should Massa desire a return to WEC, hooking back up with Ferrari – for whom he raced in F1 between 2006 and 2013 – via its AF Corse program is not out of the realm of imagination. However, it would depend largely on the seats available at Maranello and its plans moving forward.

Regardless of where he ends up for 2017, expect Massa to remain a firm paddock favorite.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
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Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”