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Tuesday, Sep 22nd

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Williams Martini Racing announced today that veteran driver Felipe Massa has agreed to re-join Williams on a one-year deal, coming out of retirement to replace Valtteri Bottas who the team has released to join Mercedes for the 2017 season.

Felipe will race for a fourth consecutive season with Williams, alongside Lance Stroll who will make his Formula One debut in the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship.

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Felipe Massa has announced that he will retire from Formula One at the end of the 2016 season, after 14 years at the top level of the sport. The 35-year-old Brazilian is in his third year with Williams, having joined the team in 2014, and is due to celebrate his 250th Grand Prix start at his final race in Abu Dhabi this year.

Felipe scored three podiums and one pole position on his way to seventh in the drivers’ standings in his first season with the team, helping Williams climb to third in the Constructors’ Championship.

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A highly entertaining Chinese Grand Prix went the way of this season's undisputed star Nico Rosberg, who recovered once again from a poor start to reclaim the lead from Daniel Ricciardo and drive off into the sunset unopposed to win his third straight race of the 2016 season, and his 6th in a row going back to the fag end of last season.

The action behind Rosberg though was brimming with excitement with the Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen colliding with each other in the opening lap, and both men produced exceptional races to work their way through the field to take second and fifth place respectively. If fault was to be assigned, Vettel perhaps should have done better to avoid the contact, though the German typically looking for someone to blame, felt that an over eager Daniil Kvyaat in the Red Bull looking to overtake the duo heading into the first corner was to blame.

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Williams Racing announced today that the partnership of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas will be retained for a third season in the 2016 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Felipe joined the team for the 2014 season and has so far scored one pole position, at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix, and four podium finishes. His experience of more than a decade at the pinnacle of Formula One is a valuable asset to the team. 

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Felipe Massa was quickest in the second free practice session this afternoon at the Shanghai International Circuit ahead of this Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix. The Brazilian’s best lap was a 1.35.340, while in second was Kimi Raikkonen with a 1.35.492. In the other F138, Fernando Alonso was third in 1.35.755.

The weather got warmer today thanks to some sunshine, reaching 22 degrees, with the track hitting 31, as Massa and Alonso began the session on the Medium compound, completing the task of evaluating new aero components, as well as the usual set-up work. As the track rubbered in and a clean line emerged, all the teams then tried the Soft compound, seen for the first time this season.

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For the second time this year, after September's Singapore Grand Prix, everyone gets to enjoy the beautiful sight of Formula 1 cars artificially lit by floodlight here at Yas Marina. Unlike at Marina Bay, here we are not tackling a night race, but what has been dubbed a twilight race, as the action starts in bright sunshine and progresses into darkness during the second free session.

The lighting gives everything an unreal feel, rather like watching a computer game, but there is nothing unreal about the work going on in the Scuderia Ferrari garage, all of it taking place in very hot and difficult working conditions for the mechanics. As the Maranello squad strives to improve the performance of the F2012 for these final three races, more new parts have been making the trip from Italy to Abu Dhabi. These need to be evaluated thoroughly before deciding whether or not to run them for qualifying and the race and that means one thing – plenty of laps. Today, Felipe Massa completed 57, which is two more than Sunday's race distance while Fernando Alonso did 52 on his way to seventh place by the end of the day, one spot higher up the FP2 timesheet than his team-mate.

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delighted_vettelSebastian Vettel followed up a stunning pole with a dominant victory at the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.  The German now is the first back to back race winner this season turning the championship momentum firmly in his favour as the championship leader crashed out on the first lap for the second time in four races. Alonso’s championship lead has now been cut to just 4 points making the final 5 races of the year a straight shootout between the two rivals with Red Bull’s recent dominant pace giving Vettel the edge. It wasn’t all bad news for Ferrari as Felipe Massa finally made the podium for the first time this year with a strong second place having started in 11th. Kamui Kobayashi rounded off the podium taking a popular third place staving off the efforts of McLaren’s Button who finished strongly in fourth. The reception for the Japanese was deafening and the crowd chanting his name calling out their hero must rank among the very best feelings in Kobayashi’s career.

After the first lap mayhem that claimed multiple cars including Alonso and Rosberg, it was a relatively measured Japanese Grand Prix. Hamilton finished a relatively uninspired drive in 5th place ahead of Raikkonen who staved off the  charging Force India of Nico Hulkenberg. Maldonado finished just behind in 8th while Webber finished in 9th. Daniel Ricciardo had to absorb loads of pressure from Michael Schumacher but eventually kept him at bay to take the all important final championship point.

The win was Vettel’s 24th F1 win and third this season keeping Red Bull well ahead in the Constructors championship as well. Alonso put on a brave face saying, “It happened to me this time, it could happen to him next time. It becomes almost a mini championship now and we have to win one point more than the other guy”.Vettel concurred saying that things were quite unpredictable in F1 but was undoubtedly focussed on the final championship phase. Raikkonen and Hamilton are still in with a chance with 157 and 152 points respectively, but both will need a massive step up in pace and consistency to mount a serious title tilt in the remaining five races.

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