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Williams apologises for team orders

NEWS STORY
03/04/2014

Claire Williams has apologised for her team's attempt to impose team orders in Malaysia by telling Felipe Massa to allow teammate Valtteri Bottas to pass.

Running seventh and eighth, and in pursuit of Jenson Button, the lead Brazilian was advised to allow his teammate by, his crew telling him that the Finn was quicker. Even as the words were uttered, fans around the world groaned in sympathy, recalling the Massa receiving the same call when leading Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso during the 2010 German Grand Prix. Indeed, the wording of the command 'he is quicker than you' was almost verbatim.

Despite continued 'demands' from the pit wall, and pleas from Bottas, the Brazilian didn't slow and didn't allow him past, leading to an obvious atmosphere within the team afterwards. In a post-race interview Williams attempted to play down the row but to no avail.

Today, ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, Williams admitted that the call to Massa was wrong.

"Our fans expect us as a team to let our drivers race, and that's the overriding disappointment," she told reporters. "For our fans we want to apologise for that because we didn't handle it in the best way, and to let them down is not the way we want to go.

"We didn't handle the situation for either of our drivers particularly well either," she admitted, "so of course we've apologised to our drivers."

According to Williams, the call to Massa came about due to an unspecified scenario that unfolded during the race and that the team had been unprepared.

"Now we have procedures in place so if it does happen again then we are prepared for that," she admitted, "and although you can't prepare for every scenario, hopefully we've got things covered.

"The instruction that was given in the way it was given, considering history, wasn't the most advised," she added. "But engineers, sat on a pit wall that is a highly pressurised environment, are people and people can sometimes make the wrong calls. We're only human, at the end of the day. But as long as we correct them and hold our hands up, that's the most important thing."

Outwardly, both drivers seem happy with Williams explanation.

"I believe that what happened in the last race won't happen again," said Massa. "Team orders are part of our sport but it needs to be part of our sport when it's necessary. Everybody here is intelligent enough to understand when it's necessary and when it's not. When I do something that is my mistake, I will be the first one to say sorry. And the team was the first one to say sorry as well."

"Things are okay," said Bottas. "There are some things which are quite confidential with the team's rules and how you play it. We don't want to get into the finer details. There are different scenarios, and everything's sorted."

Check out our Thursday gallery, here.

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Tommy Tipper, 04/04/2014 7:33

"Bottas then could only be marginally quicker than Massa, with fresher tyres and DRS he should have been able to pass him. It's racing.
Fair play to Claire Williams"

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2. Posted by Kkiirmki, 03/04/2014 21:45

"Why does Claire Williams feel the need to apologise, team orders are perfectly legal? Seems like she's trying to placate both drivers so there's no fall out that can hurt the team further in the season. In my opinion Bottas was faster and could have mounted a serious challenge on Button. The track didn't lend itself to much in the way of overtaking but you never can tell. Massa should just pull his head in and do as he was asked, for the good of the team. Where points matter to the financial rewards and success of a team 1 point can make all the difference, just ask Kimi."

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3. Posted by Spartacus, 03/04/2014 19:00

"I am not sure how much quicker Bottas was than Massa at KL. Obviously Matchett and the broadcast crew mentioned the engineers looked at the data and saw that Bottas had a better chance to get by Button than Massa. If you go by the data and combine the lap times with the remaining fuel load and the fact that Bottas had fresher tires, that would be my call as well But!! It would not have changed the team results just the drivers and I'll back Massa on his call to ignore."

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