Shortly after the Williams team orders fiasco – during the Malaysian Grand Prix – I wrote an open letter to Felipe Massa which was published here, and praising the Brazilian in the aftermath of the Sepang race.
The letter was highly critical of his team’s actions and it gave my personal opinion of why on that day, and at that time, the call from the pitwall to the Brazilian was ill advised and went against everything Williams stands for in the eyes of F1 fans.
I doubt that my letter had much to do with it, but I was pleasantly amazed – make that awestruck, by Williams’ reaction on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend whereby they put up their hand and announced to the world that they were wrong on that day in Malaysia. Report here>>>
For me, as a motor racing fan, for four decades, I can only say that this reaction is exactly why Williams is the class act of Formula 1. A real racing team, of real racers and will always be so.
They along with McLaren are the original, and only remaining, legendary “garagistes” who transformed Formula 1 and were instrumental in the rise of the sport to what it is today.
This is the team who have won nine constructors’ titles, seven driver titles and have 114 race victories to their credit – third only to McLaren and Ferrari.
The team whose roll call of drivers is second to none, among them: Alan Jones, Carlos Reutemann, Clay Reggazoni, Keke Rosberg, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jenson Button, Alain Prost, Nelson Piquet, Juan PabloMontoya, Jacques Villeneuve and of course Ayrton Senna.
And what set Williams aside from their rivals, always, is that no matter who drove for their team they were allowed to race – and boy there were some memorable feuds along the way.
In terms of competitiveness they have lost their way over the past decade, but are still very much part of the fabric of Formula 1. Most long standing Formula 1 fans will have a soft spot for Williams of the modern era, willing them one day to challenge again for championship glory.
With all this in mind, it was a shock when towards the end of the race that now infamous call for Massa to give way to teamate Valtteri Bottas – but that’s history now…
Williams, by declaring genuine mea culpa have, in one swoop, reasserted themselves at the top of the pile as a class act on all sporting fronts – not simply Formula 1 – this came from the heart and revealed the true soul of this out-and-out racing team.
It takes huge character to admit wrong doing at such a high level of any sport, let alone F1 where the media glare is so blinding.
A barrage of mindless spin doctoring would be the weapon of choice for most modern era sporting organisations in the wake of a cock-up. Rewind to a year ago and recall how Red Bull so clumsily handled their Multi-21 affair…
Instead Williams took a step back and conceded that it all happened in moment of bad judgement; under pressure in the heat of battle; out of character; sh*t happens; apologies are in order – now that is massive.
In closing it is my turn to put my hand up and admit to Williams: “I was wrong to cast doubt on your illustrious racing pedigree because of that moment of madness, from your pit gantry. But like you guys I’m only human at the end of the day.”
Formula 1 still remains a sport afterall… (Inside Line by Paul Velasco)