Williams apologizes to drivers, fans, for botched 'team orders'

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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