Date: 4th April 2014 at 8:29am
Written by:

Williams have resolved their row over team orders at last weekends Malaysian Grand Prix.

On Sunday, ironically in Malaysia where both Red Bull Racing and Mercedes famously had team order problems last year, lightening struck for a third time.

With Felipe Massa unable to get past McLaren’s Jenson Button for a sixth place finish, team-mate Valtteri Bottas was quickly catching the pair of them in eighth position.

The Finn had fresher tyres than the Brazilian and looked a better bet to take sixth away from Button.

On lap 53 Massa’s race engineer told the Brazilian ‘Okay Felipe, Valtteri is faster than you – do not hold him up,’

They were words that Massa had heard before, with former Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley telling Massa during the 2010 German Grand Prix ‘OK, so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?’

At that time with team orders illegal, that radio message brought much controversy, with Ferrari fined $100,000 for breaching race regulations concerning team orders.

On this occasion, with the rule change which followed the Ferrari incident in Germany, the Williams call was perfectly legal.

But some would argue it lacked tact considering Massa’s past and some would argue it was also unjustified, as just because Bottas was quicker in clean air, that didn’t guarantee that running behind the McLaren in the final laps he would have been able to pass.

‘Valtteri has better tyres, we need to let him go. Do not hold him up.’ a second call said, but again Massa ignored the message and went on to finish seventh, ahead of his team-mate in eighth.

Unsurprisingly both drivers had different views of the incident after the race, with Massa defiantly claiming he was able to race Bottas, while his team-mate claimed that he should have had the chance to battle with Button.

Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams refuted claims that Massa had ignored team orders and claimed she was happy with a 7th and 8th place finish.

But it was clear that the incident needed resolving behind closed doors and that is what has happened ahead of this weekends Bahrain Grand Prix.

‘It’s disappointing for people who look at Williams and expect to see our guys being able to go out there and fight for things and to let them down or whatever. It’s not the way we want them to go.

‘We didn’t handle the situation for either of our drivers particularly well, so of course we’ve apologised to our drivers.
Claire Williams told Autosport Magazine.

Massa told the BBC: ‘I’m not against team orders, It is part of our sport. But I didn’t expect what happened last weekend and it was not correct and the team knows that.’

Bottas however still feels that he missed out the chance to challenge the McLaren of Jenson Button for sixth and he told Sky Sports: ‘Maybe it could have been done in a little bit different way, or better explained the situation – that I could have a go on Button and if I can’t do it then he would get his position back or something like that,’

‘I think that would be fair. If I say I think I can go through and then I can’t then I think it’s quite a fair thing to do.