Felipe Massa: Valtteri Bottas isn’t the only one to feel F1 contract pressure

Michelle Foster
Felipe Massa Valtteri Bottas

Felipe Massa Valtteri Bottas

Declaring that his one-year deals at Mercedes “hurt” his chances of fighting for the World titles, Felipe Massa says contract pressure will “always” be a part of the career of a Formula 1 driver.

Although Bottas was a race winner in four of his five seasons with Mercedes, the Finn was never able to string together a title challenge and twice had to settle for runner-up behind Lewis Hamilton.

He blamed his one-year contracts for that, saying it “would certainly have saved a lot of energy and a lot of unnecessary pressure.

“Not just focusing on the moment, but knowing you’re with the team and can focus on next year and all the improvements you want to share with the team for the future.”

He left Mercedes after the 2021 season, signing with Alfa Romeo for the 2022 and ’23 seasons in what was his first multi-year contract since joining the Formula 1 grid back in 2013.

But according to former F1 driver Massa, contract pressure is just a part of being a Formula 1 driver.

Massa felt it throughout his career, most notably after being dropped to a Ferrari reserve driver role after just one season with Sauber. He would return to the grid after his year out, rejoining Sauber for two years before going onto race for Ferrari.

He told swiatwyscigow.pl: “You know how it is in Formula 1, you need to be at the right moment, with the right car, with the right team, performing.

“Also, I did the first year, driving for Sauber, and then I moved as a test driver for Ferrari. You don’t know if you will have another chance to come back.

“So, you always need the pressure. The career in Formula 1 is always like that.

“Maybe you do a two–year contract, when you are in the middle of the second year, you don’t know you will stay, you will not stay.

“Performance will give you the opportunity to stay. In the end, everything is pressure in Formula 1.”

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He added: “It’s part of Formula 1. Many drivers felt that, not only me and Bottas.

“When we are getting to the end of the championship and you have so many drivers, they are trying to show everything they can, in terms of results, to show the team that they are the right choice.

“Maybe others that are not in Formula 1, but they have the possibility to be in Formula 1.

“In the end, the pressure is part of the work in Formula 1. It doesn’t matter if you are at the top or not, you always have this working pressure to stay or to improve your contract, or to stay where you are. In the end, it’s part of Formula 1.”

One driver waiting to find a spot on the Formula 1 driver is 2022 Formula 2 champion Felipe Drugovich.

The Brazilian has had to settle for a reserve driver role with Aston Martin, Drugovich following in Oscar Piastri’s footsteps as he waits for a spot to open up.

But even then a promotion is not guaranteed as Aston Martin have Fernando Alonso on a multi-year deal while the boss’s son, Lance Stroll, is their second driver.

Asked about Drugovich, Massa said: “I think he did a fantastic job last year, he really managed to win the Formula 2, I think that’s really amazing. If he signs with the right team or not, it’s impossible to say because you need to have the chance, you need to have the possibility to be in Formula 1.

“The negative point he won the Formula 2 in the third year. And then the Formula 1 team doesn’t give the same importance when you arrive in the first year and you win. Let’s see from now on if he will have the opportunity or not.

“He signed to be the third driver in Aston Martin. But they have Fernando there for two years and the other driver is the son of the owner. So, if he will have the chance or not, we don’t know. We just need to wait and see if he can have that possibility in Aston Martin or maybe in another team.”