JUNE 3, 2015
Symonds says Massa incredible driver
Williams appears more than happy with Felipe Massa.
In recent weeks, the star of the early 2016 'silly season' has been Valtteri Bottas, who is strongly linked with a potential move to Ferrari.
Also on Ferrari's shortlist to possibly replace Kimi Raikkonen, according to Italy's Autosprint, is frustrated Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.
But with Finn Bottas reportedly first in Ferrari's sights, it could mean teammate Massa's place at Williams is strongly firming up for 2016.
Pat Symonds, the team's hugely-experienced technical boss, told UOL Esporte he is happy with the 34-year-old Brazilian.
"Before Felipe came to Williams," he said, "I did not know him very well.
"He's one of those people who, if you see them in a restaurant and someone says it's a driver, you wouldn't believe it.
"But when I see him in a racing car, it's incredible.
"I think the only time I had spoken to him for any length of time was when we were arguing in the stewards room at Monza in 2006.
"I seem to remember accusing him of pretending not to speak English well when I knew very well that he could," Symonds laughed.
That was when Symonds was working alongside Fernando Alonso at Renault. Alonso went on to be Massa's Ferrari teammate for four years until 2013.
Symonds said: "I know very well how good Alonso is and so that gave me the confidence to know that this guy (Massa) was good.
"It's what I told him the first time we talked when he came to Williams: 'You've beaten Alonso already, so we believe in you', and I think that attitude - not only from me but also the rest of the team - made him relax," he added.
And Symonds said 'relaxing' was the key to Massa's newfound return to confidence and form at Williams.
"He's no longer fighting a world led by Fernando Alonso," said the Briton. "Now he's part of the team. One day he's beating Valtteri and the next he's not, but it doesn't matter -- everyone is working to bring the team forwards."