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Williams: 'We made the wrong call'

2014-04-04 08:55

TENUOUS RELATIONSHIP: Felipe Massa’s relationship with Williams is understandably strained following his team order row at the 2014 Malaysian GP. Image: AP


MANAMA, Bahrain - Williams has apologised to its drivers and Formula 1 fans for a clumsy and ultimately failed attempt to impose "team orders"  during the 2014 Malaysian GP  in March.

Deputy principal Claire Williams told reporters ahead of the 2014 Bahrain GP that the team had erred in asking Felipe Massa to let faster team mate Valtteri Bottas overtake.

Massa ignored the request, delivered over the team radio and heard worldwide on TV,  and finished seventh, one place ahead of Bottas.


Williams said: "Our fans expect us as a team to let our drivers race, that's the overriding disappointment.

"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 driver particularly well, so of course we've apologised to them."

The order scratched several old sores early in the season at a circuit where coded instructions to Red Bull and Mercedes drivers in 2013 triggered a lingering controversy and talk about the pecking order within those teams.

The phrase used by Williams was also almost identical to an infamous one that Massa heard when he was leading the 2010 German GP  ahead of Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso.

"Felipe, Fernando is faster than you,"  has haunted Massa ever since and the veteran, who did as he was told that day, has ranked it among the worst moments of his career.


Williams, which took only five points in a miserable 2013 season but already has four times as many on the board after two races, said the team would make sure things were done differently in future.

The team 'had simply been caught out by a scenario that arose on the day'.

Williams said: "We now have procedures in place so, if it does happen again, we are prepared. You can't prepare for every scenario but I hope we have things covered.

"The instruction, given as it was given and considering history, wasn't the most advised but engineers - sitting on a pits-lane wall in a highly pressurised environment - are people and people can sometimes make the wrong calls.

"We correct them and hold our hands up, that's the most important thing."


Massa, who spent much of his time at Ferrari battling in vainthe perception that he was the No.2 driver, was happy the air had been cleared. The relationship with team had not been damaged, there was no lingering tension.

"I believe what happened in the previous race won't happen again. Team orders are part of the sport  - when necessary. Everybody here is intelligent enough to understand when it's necessary and when it's not.

"When I do something then that is my mistake. I will be the firstto say sorry. The team was the first to say sorry as well."

Bottas was also confident everybody was now clear about procedures: "Things are okay.  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."

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