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Williams didn't realise Felipe Massa didn't want to retire

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams has no concerns about Felipe Massa's ability to return to Formula One at the top of his game after the Brazilian made a u-turn on his decision to retire earlier this week.

Massa was drafted back into the team after Williams reached a deal with Mercedes to release Valtteri Bottas from his 2017 contract. He will partner rookie Lance Stroll at the team in what will be his 15th year in Formula One, but Williams is sure he is fully motivated to return.

"We are never going to put a driver in the car who we don't believe can deliver," Williams told Sky Sports. "As everyone saw even in his last race last year [in Abu Dhabi], he delivered for this team.

"He has lost none of his motivation. I know there's a lot of talk out there 'let the guy retire, leave him alone' -- he wants to come back. Little-known to me, I didn't actually realise that he didn't really want to retire and so I think Felipe is going to do a good job this year."

But Williams admits she initially felt bad about asking Massa to return just over a month after he had celebrated his retirement in Abu Dhabi.

"Bless him, Felipe had announced his retirement, we had a whole fanfare around it, and then to have to phone your ex-driver up and say 'would you mind coming out of retirement?' you feel quite bad about it," said Williams. "But I've never heard anyone so happy and excited, so it was a big relief for us."