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Felipe Massa Announces Retirement at the End of 2017 F1 Season

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Felipe Massa has announced he would retire at the end of the 2017 Formula One season, opening up a seat at the Williams Martini Racing team that many drivers will want to fill.

Massa, who has 11 wins and 41 F1 podiums to his name—and who came just a single point away from winning the championship with Ferrari in 2008—had already retired at the end of last year, but was promptly recalled to Williams after losing Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes.

After suffering a head injury in 2009, Massa was never quite the same driver as he had been before the incident—and in recent years his skill behind the wheel seems to have significantly dropped off. Despite this, he had still been decimating rookie teammate Lance Stroll (which really does not reflect well on the Canadian), and their combined lackluster performances have made Williams struggle to compete at the level that you would expect from one of the most prestigious teams in the sport (that being said, the car itself is nowhere near the top three).

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Many drivers have been fighting over Massa’s seat since before he even retired, including Robert Kubica, Pascal Wehrlein, and perhaps even Jolyon Palmer or Daniil Kvyat. There had also been talk of Fernando Alonso vying for Williams, but it was shut down quickly by Claire Williams, and then decisively abandoned when Alonso announced he would actually continue to drive at McLaren following a deal with Renault, Honda, and Toro Rosso.

So far, Kubica seems like the best bet for Williams, though also a gamble because he has been out of F1 for so long. Palmer doesn’t look to be an improvement over Massa—and if Williams had wanted more of the same, they could have just kept the latter—and Wehrlein and Kvyat are probably too young. Because of Williams’ sponsorship deal with Martini, it needs at least one older driver for promotional purposes. Wehrlein and Kvyat are only 23 and Stroll won’t even turn 20 until the 2018 season nears its end.

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