Felipe Massa Will Race in Formula E Next Season
The Brazilian Formula 1 driver hasn’t hung up his race suit quite yet.
Despite expressing an interest in Formula E, nobody but Felipe Massa himself knew if he would return to motorsport after retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 2017 season. As of Tuesday, however, Formula E's official twitter account confirmed the move, announcing that the baby-faced Brazilian would drive with the Venturi Formula E Team in the sport's fifth season. The deal is a three-year contract according to the Formula E website.
"I’m very happy to be joining the Venturi Formula E Team and the Formula E championship, which has become a magnificent competition in such a short space of time," stated Massa in a release on Formula E's website. "For some years now, I’ve been clear about my interest in this innovative, forward-looking discipline that’s developing exponentially. I especially like the format of race meetings, the city-centre circuits and the contact with the fans. I can’t wait to take part in testing at the end of the month."
Venturi Formula E Team is a racing venture founded as a subsidiary of Monaco-based Venturi Automobiles, an electric vehicle manufacturer, in a joint venture with actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The team is placed seventh in the ten-strong championship in this season of Formula E, in which three races remain. Venturi has picked up a smattering of points finishes and a single podium, courtesy of Edoardo Mortara, whose performance has eclipsed that of his teammate Maro Engel so far this year.
The team has not yet disclosed which driver Massa will replace, though the relatively one-sided teammate battle suggests the decision will be easy. The Drive contacted Venturi for comment and will update when we hear back.
Massa will become the fourth former Formula 1 driver to race for Venturi in Formula E, which has a history of scooping up talent under-appreciated in Formula 1. Nick Heidfeld, Stéphane Sarrazin, and Jacques Villeneuve all drove for the team during different periods throughout its first three Formula E seasons.
The current Formula E championship is led handily by another ex-Formula 1 driver, Jean-Éric Vergne, who once stood in line for a seat at Red Bull Racing. Elsewhere in the field, André Lotterer, Kamui Kobayashi, Nelson Piquet Jr., Sebastian Buemi, Jérôme d'Ambrosio, and Heidfeld—all Formula 1 Grand Prix race starters—have competed for at least part of the current Formula E season. Massa may enjoy a warm welcome from his fellow Grand Prix drivers.