For the second year in a row, the Malaysian Grand Prix ended in a controversy over team orders - the commands from teams ordering teammates to let each other pass for positions. Whereas last year's fiasco surrounded Red Bull Racing, Williams is now under the microscope following last weekend's race.

In the closing laps, Felipe Massa (above, left) was leading teammate Valtteri Bottas (above, right) when the team ordered him to let the Finn pass. Massa supporters will recall the Brazilian being placed in a similar situation by his old team, Ferrari, in 2010. According to The New York Times, Massa ranked the moment where "Felipe, Fernando is faster than you," came over the radio, as one of the worst of his career. In this case, though, Massa held off his younger partner, allowing the team to enjoy a seventh/eighth-place finish.

For its part, Williams, which made a splash with its new Martini livery this year, was quick to clear the air. "Our fans expect us as a team to let our drivers race, and that's the overriding disappointment," said Claire Williams, deputy team principal and daughter of team namesake Sir Frank Williams. "We didn't handle the situation for either of our drivers particularly well, so of course we've apologized to our drivers. 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."

Massa, for his part, is responding better than he did to the Ferrari sleight. "I believe that what's happened on the last race won't happen again," the Brazilian veteran said. "Team orders is 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."


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  • 18 Comments
      gary
      • 8 Months Ago
      This wasn't about preferential treatment for the team's favorite driver, it was about SOMEBODY on the team getting ahead of Button and collecting more points for the manufacturer's championship. Massa had used his tires up trying, Bottas was on fresh skins and had a better shot.
      no1bondfan
      • 8 Months Ago
      It's great to see Williams fielding competitive cars again after the last few (many) seasons.
        HateUK
        • 8 Months Ago
        @no1bondfan
        You call 7th and 8th, half a minute behind cars using the same powertrain competitive? I'd hate to see what you call an English piece of crap.
          Cayman
          • 8 Months Ago
          @HateUK
          I would call them competitive. Anyone that makes Q3 is competitive. And everyone is miles behind the Mercedes factory team. As for your English piece of crap that isn't competitive, I'd look at Caterham or Lotus so far this season.
      thedriveatfive
      • 8 Months Ago
      It should have been 1 team 1 driver ages ago.
      MotionDesigner
      • 8 Months Ago
      Why is Williams apologizing? Massa was doing nothing but slowing down his teammate who was faster than him on fresher tires. Jenson Button, who was ahead of both of them desperately trying to fend them off (and ultimately succeeded) had a slow pace and Bottas would've easily been able to pass Button if Massa wasn't so stubborn trying to fend off Bottas. And if Massa let Bottas pass him and Button there was a possibility that even Massa himself could've passed Button. When you're preoccupied trying to battle someone behind you, you will not pass the person in front of you and that's how Button was able to hold both of them off. F1 is not like NASCAR or Indy where each team only has one individual driver. Every F1 team principle will tell you the team comes first, then the drivers. Williams could've scored 14 points for the team instead of the 9 or 10 that they scored. 4-5 extra points could make a huge difference for a mid-pack team at the end of the season.
        360_AD
        • 8 Months Ago
        @MotionDesigner
        Why so dramatic? If Masa was really that slow, as you imply, then Bottas would've passed on his own. But that didn't happen did it? He may have been a little quicker but not quick enough to get the job done. Understand that the team order was based on the pitfall's assumption that because Bottas had fresher tires, he may have had a chance to make up ground on Button. That's a big assumption and Masa disagreed, and he has the right to disagree.
          Cayman
          • 8 Months Ago
          @360_AD
          He has a right to disagree, but he really doesn't have the right to ignore the orders. He works for the team. That's why they are called team orders not team requests.
        Pj Taintz
        • 8 Months Ago
        @MotionDesigner
        I dont think you quite understand indy or nascar if you think that each team has only 1 driver. hendrick for example has 4 drivers, and has relations with stewart hass, which also has 4 drivers. Last year waltrip racing got in trouble and one of his drivers missed a shot at the championship due to blatent "team orders" but you see team orders in nascar all the time (i dont watch indy so i cant say as much on the topic)
        Lemon
        • 8 Months Ago
        @MotionDesigner
        Indycar has multiple cars per team as well.. penske and andretti both run 3 cars, while most teams have 2
          MotionDesigner
          • 8 Months Ago
          @Lemon
          @Pj Taintz & Lemon: I'll concede to my error. I admit I barely ever watch NASCAR and I don't watch Indy that often either. The very few times I ever did watch NASCAR I don't recall ever seeing any two cars looking identical to each other being on the same track together. And I was actually at an Indy race last year and I don't recall seeing two cars of the same livery on the track. So I assumed it's a 1-driver per race deal but obviously I could be mistaken. That said, Indy and NASCAR examples notwithstanding, I still stand behind everything else I said about Massa and the Williams situation.
      HateUK
      • 8 Months Ago
      How does that team make a Mercedes-powered car so far off the pace? Shameful really.
      The Wasp
      • 8 Months Ago
      It would be interesting to hear an explanation of how Massa avoided following the instructions to let Bottas pass. I imagine that would be a testy conversation. If I were a fan of this kind of racing, I would be very upset about "team orders". Anyone who appreciates "racing" should oppose this, even if it is only fixing a 7th vs. 8th place finish.
        johnnythemoney
        • 8 Months Ago
        @The Wasp
        It's a team sport, with a team championship, which pays a lot of money too, even more than what drivers can bring in sponsorships or generate via their own results. Team orders have always been there, a times they were simply subtler than in other years. Otherwise might as well switch off the radio if a driver doesn't trust his team on giving him reliable information on the bigger picture. This wasn't "move out of the way" for the sake of it, but to actually try and get an additional place, via more racing than what we got with the McLaren simply in front of Massa and Bottas, as opposed to Bottas (theoretically) trying to pass the McLaren.
          The Wasp
          • 8 Months Ago
          @johnnythemoney
          As someone not involved with racing, I don't understand why fans would enjoy this. It seems to me this style of competition only favors team owners who can afford to field multiple cars. Who gets excited about that? Is that somehow in the interest of fans or in the spirit of racing? I'd like to think the drivers, all of them, are driving as fast as they can every race.
      Cayman
      • 8 Months Ago
      I fail to see how Massa responded better to this incident than he did the German one. In Germany, what Ferrari asked was illegal, wasn't about helping the team since Massa was leading at the time, but rather putting Alonso ahead of Massa. Massa followed the orders and didn't really criticize it publicly at the time. In this incident, the orders were legal, were intended to help the team since there were other cars ahead, not just switch two drivers, Massa ignored the incident and is now essentially stating that the team asking him to do it was wrong and he doesn't think the team will try it again. If anything, I would say Massa deserves more praise for how he handled the Ferrari incident.
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