Williams in damage control mode to diffuse tensions after team orders embarrassment


Team orders triggered another Malaysian Grand Prix controversy on Sunday, with Brazilian Felipe Massa defiant after refusing to obey an instruction to let Williams teammate Valtteri Bottas overtake, leaving the team in an embarrassing situation and with damage control high on their agenda before the next race in Bahrain.

Massa, no stranger to unwelcome radio messages at his previous team, Ferrari, finished the second race of the Formula One season in seventh place, just ahead of his frustrated Finnish teammate.

McLaren’s Jenson Button was sixth, managing to hold off the Williams pair despite struggling for straight line pace.

Williams Chief Operations Engineer Rod Nelson said that the team felt that Bottas had fresher tyres than Button and would have been able to challenge the Briton better than Massa, whose rising engine temperature was causing concern.

Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 30 March 2014.

The Brazilian didn’t see it that way and said he had been surprised to hear the message “Valtteri is faster than you, do not hold him up” over the team radio.

“What I did was correct and I try and do the best for the team. I’m sure the result would not have changed if I let him by. What I did in my opinion was correct and I’m doing everything I can to help the team,” he told reporters.

“The team respect me 100 per cent and they showed they respect me after the race so I have no problem at all. What happened today was not what I expected but what I did was correct,” added the Brazilian.

“The problem was that I was much quicker than McLaren [for] the whole race, but going out the last corner they had very good traction…Valtteri had the same problem, overtaking McLaren was not easy.”

Nelson said thatthe plan had been for Bottas to attack Button, but if he wasn’t able to overtake, then Massa would have been allowed to reclaim seventh from the Finn.

Choosing his words carefully, Nelson said that there would be a discussion with both drivers later regarding the matter and that it was “a strategic decision” rather than team orders.


“He didn’t do what we would have preferred him to do,” he said of Massa.

“We look to maximise our constructor points whenever we go racing, Felipe was running high temperatures on his engine and we were a little bit concerned about it and Valtteri had much fresher tyres, certainly than Jenson did.

“We thought it would be good to give Valtteri a go against Jenson and then if he hadn’t achieved that in two or three laps we would have swapped our drivers over again.”

Nelson said that Williams did not have team orders.

“Its not like other teams where they have a No 1 driver and a No 2 driver, we have two No 1 drivers. And its a race situation,” he explained.

Williams Martini Racing 2014 Team Launch, London, England, Thursday 6 March 2014.

“We will go through with the drivers tonight and discuss what we expect.”

Bottas was in sombre mood after addressing reporters after Massa, initially trying to steer questions off the subject, which took the shine off Williams moving into fourth in the constructors standings, on 20 points.

The Finn said that he had followed a subsequent instruction by not overtaking Massa in the final two laps before contradicting the Brazilian’s version of discussion in pre-season.

“We have spoken beforehand about these situations but I think we need to go more into the details,” the Finn said, adding that he believed that he could have overtaken Button.

Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Practice, Sepang, Malaysia, Friday 28 March 2014.

“We are going to talk through it and what we need to do next time in similar situations so everything is clear. What are the rules… and [hopefully it] allows us to get more points.”

The wording of the message would have been particularly painful for Massa, who was famously told “Fernando is faster than you” while leading the 2010 German Grand Prix.

On that occasion, he moved over to let teammate Fernando Alonso win in what he later described as the toughest moment of his career with Ferrari.

Last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix had two similar controversies, with Red Bull’s world champion Sebastian Vettel ignoring a coded ‘multi 21′ instruction and passing teammate Mark Webber for victory.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, who finished second behind teammate Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s race, obeyed an order last year to hold station behind the Briton. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • McLarenfan

    It was pure sh!t the way the message was put out on the radio and I would have done the same Bottas had a lot fresher tyres bull thy were 2 laps newer not 5 or 6 were you may get a run at Jenson also he never got close enough to Felipe to go through what did he want Felipe to do park up have a pint or 2. Bad Call.

  • Ridhuan Abu Bakar

    poor Massa always had to give way to other drivers

  • =El Presidente=

    So, what did we learn in school today? (dear little boy o’mine)

    Team-orders, due to thusfar unknown forces, do not pan out in Malaysia. ­čśë

  • http://www.facebook.com/Bomoh1Malaysia Raja Bomoh Nujum VIP

    Race kat malaysia, pasti ada kontroversi…….mcm pemimpin umno jugak

  • Faraz Javed

    If Bottas was faster he should first attempt to overtake Massa without team orders… if he could do that, he could overtake button as well … Everyone is saying how difficult overtaking is with these new cars…

  • Robin Ducker

    I thought the Radio message could have been better phrased given the past. So, very insensitive.

  • Dr. Azlan

    Williams have no right asking Massa to move over in only the second race of the season. Massa’s race is equally important as his teammate’s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Bomoh1Malaysia Raja Bomoh Nujum VIP

    I agree

  • http://www.facebook.com/Bomoh1Malaysia Raja Bomoh Nujum VIP

    It worked only with Ferrari

  • Macstar

    It makes no sense that he felt he could overtake Button when he couldn’t over take Massa who was making no impression on Button!

  • BS

    Yes, but then you risk contact, and use up your tires more than necessary.

  • Hugo Lafreniere

    Actually getting close to Massa would’ve sent a message. He wasn’t even a threat.
    -Bottas is faster than you.
    – Why is he behind me then? Watch me speed up the pace and maintain the gap LOL!

  • topkill

    I would have agreed, except that Felipe whined like a little girl early in the race when Bottas was going to pass him. Felipe of all people should not have been calling for team orders then and once he did, he had ZERO right to complain when they were going to let Bottas have a go at Button.

  • topkill

    You’re assuming that Bottas was putting the same effort in to try and pass Massa as he would have on Button. He had already been warned off passing Massa early in the race when he easily had him. Then he was told that Massa was going to let him through so he wasn’t going to take a chance of wrecking BOTH Williams cars.
    So would he have had a chance of passing Massa if they both raced full out? Maybe.
    Would he have had a better chance of taking Button than Massa did? Maybe.

    The team felt he did, he had fresher tires and a cooler engine and it’s their right as Massa’s employer to give it a shot. They supported Massa when he told them to make Bottas back off in the first few laps, they should expect Massa to support their decisions right back. It’s sure as hell at least a two way street, and if it only goes one way….the team wins, not the driver.

  • Ruben blanco

    I believed Williams was different but I no longer think so. They haven’t learned from the last race in Australia and don’t even from the past.
    Massa deserves respect and what they told him at his first race and only fighting for a mere 7th or 6th doesn’t seem like he’s too much respected there.
    It’s absolutely no fair to do that because I think Massa’ll be quicker than Bottas throughout the season, Bottas knows that and knows that if he gets the upper hand now then He’ll have more chances to sign for a better team or stay at Williams.
    But I absolutely think Massa will outperform him many times.
    Which leads me to believe they’re trying to get rid of Massa as soon as possible or the other way around as Williams is a team with serious economic issues and need the revenue from big teams for signing their rooky drivers.

  • steveraxx

    Little girls complain about Formula One team orders? By the way only idiots use all capitalized words. Learn how to write properly and perhaps people will start taking you seriously. Hackneyed phrases are endemic to poor authors.

  • steveraxx


  • steveraxx

    Hey moron, people post in English for a reason. Only a small majority, effete politically correct types want to see your gibberish posted here.

  • topkill

    What kind of douche gets his jollies playing grammar Nazi on the internet? It was one word capitalized for emphasis.

    If you want to talk about stupid, you need to consider your own reading comprehension. I never said that Massa complained about team orders like a little girl. I said he whined like a little girl *asking* for team orders. Whining *because* he was given team orders would have been what you *think* you read.

    Do you need me to type slow so you can try to understand? It’s amusing to see somebody get on the internet and start to criticize others because they always make mistakes when they do it. Idiot.