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Massa defies team orders

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Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton after winning the Malaysian  Grand Prix. Picture credit: Lai Seng Sin/AP

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton after winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. Picture credit: Lai Seng Sin/AP

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton after winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. Picture credit: Lai Seng Sin/AP

TEAM orders triggered another Malaysian Grand Prix controversy on Sunday, with Brazilian Felipe Massa defiant after refusing to obey an instruction to let Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas overtake.

Massa, no stranger to unwelcome radio messages at his previous team Ferrari, finished the second race of the Formula One season in seventh place and just ahead of his frustrated Finnish team-mate.

McLaren's Jenson Button was sixth, managing to hold off the Williams pair despite struggling for straight line pace.

Williams Chief Operations Engineer Rod Nelson said the team felt Bottas had fresher tyres than Button and would have been able to challenge the Briton better than Massa, whose rising engine temperature was causing concern.

The Brazilian didn't see it that way and said he had been surprised to hear the message "Valtteri is faster than you, do not hold him up" over the team radio.

"What I did was correct and I try and do the best for the team. I'm sure the result will not change if I let him by. What I did in my opinion was correct and I'm doing everything I can to help the team," he said.

"The team respect me 100 per cent and they showed they respect me after the race so I have no problem at all. What happened today was not what I expect but what I did was correct.

"The problem was, I was much quicker than McLaren the whole race but going out the last corner they had very good traction ... Valtteri had the same problem, overtaking McLaren was not easy."

Nelson said the plan had been for Bottas to attack Button but if he wasn't able to overtake, then Massa would have been allowed to reclaim seventh.

 

STRATEGIC DECISION

Choosing his words carefully, Nelson said there would be a discussion with both drivers later to review the matter and that it was "a strategic decision" rather than team orders.

"He didn't do what we would have preferred him to do," he said of Massa.

"We look to maximise our constructor points whenever we go racing, Felipe was running high temperatures on his engine and we were a little bit concerned about it and Valtteri had much fresher tyres, certainly than Jenson did."

Nelson said Williams did not have team orders.

Bottas was in sombre mood after addressing reporters after Massa, initially trying to steer questions off the subject, which took the shine off Williams moving into fourth on 20 points in the constructors standings.

The Finn said he had followed a subsequent instruction by not overtaking Massa in the final two laps before contradicting the Brazilian's version of discussion in pre-season.

"We have spoken beforehand about these situations but I think we need to go more into the details," the Finn said, adding he believed he could have overtaken Button.


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