New Williams Formula 1 team chief technical officer Paddy Lowe has defended its 2017 driver line-up of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll
Massa was brought out of his short-lived retirement to partner rookie Stroll after Valtteri Bottas moved to Mercedes to take the seat vacated by world champion Nico Rosberg, and Lowe insists he is excited by the pairing.
He added he had long admired Massa, particularly having been a key player at McLaren in 2008 when the Brazilian, then at Ferrari, almost beat Lewis Hamilton to the drivers' championship.
"The line-up we have with Felipe and Lance is really exciting in itself," said Lowe in the Melbourne paddock ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
"I understand what you say, that you could accuse them [Williams] of losing their star driver, but actually Felipe and Valtteri are both great drivers.
"I've been a big admirer of Felipe throughout his career, he drove an absolutely amazing season in 2008 and so narrowly missed the championship competing with Lewis.
"As the competition of that time, I was very admiring of Felipe and his performance so it's really great for me to come and work with him.
"I don't see Felipe as a poor option."
Lowe added that it would have been a mistake to force Bottas to stay at the team against his will instead of moving to Mercedes.
"I'm not privy to the actual negotiations about Valtteri, but he is ambitious and respect to Williams and Claire [Williams, deputy team principal] particularly for allowing him to progress his career as he wanted to.
"Nobody wants to do a job they don't want to do, and if Valtteri felt it was an opportunity he wanted to take, it would have been wrong of Williams to deny him that at this stage of his career."
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