• Malaysian Grand Prix

Massa insists he was right to disobey team orders

Laurence Edmondson at Sepang
March 30, 2014 « Differing versions of events at Williams | 'I thought he was going to put me in the wall' - Rosberg »
Felipe Massa held firm ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages © Sutton Images

Felipe Massa stands by his decision to disregard team orders at the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of a meeting between the drivers and Williams engineers to discuss the fallout.

Massa was told to let team-mate Valtteri Bottas past towards the end of the race so that Bottas could attempt to overtake Jenson Button for sixth place. Invoking memories of the team orders issued during Massa's Ferrari career, when he was seen as the No.2 driver to Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, the Williams pit wall told him "Valtteri is faster than you" before ordering Massa to move over.

The plan was swap the drivers back if Bottas failed to pass Button, but Massa said he saw no reason to swap positions and stands by his decision to fend off his team-mate.

"It was not so clear," he said. "I hear everything, but it was not clear. What I did was correct. I'm trying to do the best for the team, that's the most important thing. I'm sure the result will not change if I let him by, so it's the same. What I did, in my opinion was correct.

"I'm doing everything I can to help the team to do the best to improve the car and give as much experience as I can to the team. The team respect me 100% and they showed they respect me after the race as well. I have no problem at all, and what happened today was for sure not what I expect, but in the end it was correct."

However, test and support engineer Rod Nelson, who is standing in as chief race engineer before Rob Smedley joins the team from Ferrari next week, said Bottas would have stood a good chance of getting past Button.

"He [Massa] didn't do what we would have preferred him to do," Nelson said. "You've got to understand that we look to maximise constructors' points whenever we go racing. Felipe was running fairly high temperatures on his engine and we were a little bit concerned about it and Valtteri had much fresher tyres, certainly [fresher] than Jenson did.

"We thought that it would be good to give Vatteri a go at getting past Jenson and if he hadn't achieved that in two or three laps then we would have swapped our drivers over again and everyone would have been happy. It's no big deal, every team does it. It's not team orders, it's a strategic decision based on the relative performance of both cars."

Nelson reiterated that the call from the pit wall had nothing to do with driver favouritism.

"There's always something you're going to do that's going to cause a bit of a fuss, but it's fairly straightforward and it's the way that we work. There's nothing else going on in the background. We don't want to put one driver up and one driver down, we don't have team orders in that respect at Williams. It's not like other teams where they have a No.1 driver and a No.2 driver. We have two No.1 drivers."

Massa said there had been no prior discussion about how to manage the two cars during the race, but Bottas indicated there had. The Finn also felt he stood a good chance at passing Button if he was allowed through.

"I think there was a possibility," Bottas said. "I think because I delayed my first pit stop a little bit my tyres were in a little bit better condition than Button and Felipe in front. It felt like I had a bit more pace today than those two cars, I really think I could have had a good shot at Jenson. I think there could have been a chance maybe to get more points for the team.

"We are going to talk it through with the team and analyse what happened and what we need to do next time in similar situations, just so everything is clear. What are the rules and what we do in these situations and what we will do better next time. Hopefully it will allow us to get more points in the future."

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