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Massa defiant after ignoring team call

After years of working as Ferrari's lackey, the call made by Williams to Felipe Massa on Sunday would have felt like a kick in the teeth for the Brazilian.

After making his move from Ferrari at the end of last season, as the Italian side opted to partner Kimi Raikkonen with Fernando Alonso for 2014, Massa went on the look out for a new team.

The Brazilian had a short list of criteria, one was a competitive car, the second most probably was to either be the team number one or at very least be on a level footing with his team-mate.

The move to Williams looked the perfect fit, a team desperate to return to past glories, switching from Renault to Mercedes power and working alongside an upcoming youngster in the form of Valtteri Bottas.

The perfect combination of experience and potential.

But on Sunday, ironically in Malaysia where both Red Bull Racing and Mercedes famously had team order problems last year, lightening struck for a third time.

With Felipe Massa unable to get past McLaren's Jenson Button for a sixth place finish, team-mate Bottas was quickly catching the pair of them in eighth position.

The Finn had fresher tyres than the Brazilian and looked a better bet to take sixth away from Button.

On lap 53 Massa's race engineer told the Brazilian 'Okay Felipe, Valtteri is faster than you - do not hold him up,'

They were words that Massa had heard before, with former Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley telling Massa during the 2010 German Grand Prix 'OK, so, Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?'

At that time with team orders illegal, that radio message brought much controversy, with Ferrari fined $100,000 for breaching race regulations concerning team orders.

On this occasion, with the rule change with followed the Ferrari incident in Germany, the Williams call was perfectly legal.

But some would argue it lacked tact considering Massa's past and some would argue it was also unjustified, as just because Bottas was quicker in clean air, that didn't guarantee that running behind the McLaren in the final laps he would have been able to pass.

'Valtteri has better tyres, we need to let him go. Do not hold him up.' a second call said, but again Massa ignored the message and went on to finish seventh, ahead of his team-mate in eight.

'I think I did the best I could on my race, I was fighting to Jenson until the end and definitely that was my target, just to score as many points for the team and for me as well. Massa told Sky Sports.

'We are fighting for the championship, we are in the second race. Definitely I tried the best I could and Valtteri couldn't pass me so it was going to be difficult to pass Jenson as well. So I don't think things would have been changed at the end.'

'I was there, I was fighting. It was not that we were on two completely [different] strategies. He was not in a different strategy to me, he stopped just after me and his tyre was slightly better, but not enough to pass me and not enough to pass Jenson as well. So what I did was the right thing.'


Unsurprisingly, Bottas felt differently about the situation.

'I think there was a really good chance for me to get Jenson. I was approaching really quickly but, like I said, we need to speak with the team,'

But if Bottas was looking for the team to back him up, Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams failed to do so, in public anyway.

'He didn't ignore them [team orders], but both cars were getting really hot at the end of the race and they were both told they needed to make sure they got both cars across the lines rather than overheating them. Valtteri was also told to cool it off as well.

'I'm very happy we are ending the race in P7 and 8, which is a great result for Williams. Much better than anything we did last year so I'm happy.'


With an unhappy Bottas, there was some clear tension in the team after the race. But it looks like Williams will keep their arguments to themselves behind closed doors.








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The Journalist

Writer: Red5 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday April 1 2014

Time: 10:00AM

 

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