Felipe Massa, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2014

Massa defends decision to disobey team orders

2014 Malaysian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Felipe Massa defended his decision to ignore orders from Williams to let his team mate overtake him in the closing stages of the race.

Massa was leading Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages when Williams repeatedly told him to let his team mate past.

Among the messages given to Massa were “Valtteri’s got better tyres we need to let him go” and “Felipe you’re slower than Valtteri, let him past”. Meanwhile Bottas was being told “You’re faster than Felipe, overtake him.”

However Massa refused to give up the position and finished the race ahead of his team mate.

“I think I did the best I could with my race,” he told reporters afterwards. “I was fighting to the end and my target was to score as many points for the team and me. We’re only in the second race.”

The pair were following Jenson Button and Williams wanted to release Bottas so he could go after the McLaren.

“Valtteri couldn’t pass me so it was going to be difficult to pass Jenson as well,” said Massa. “I don’t think that would’ve changed.”

Bottas disagreed, saying “I think there was a really good chance for me to get Jenson”, but did not comment on Massa’s refusal to let him by.

Williams eventually told both drivers to cool their engines and instructed Bottas to hold position, telling him: “We really need to cool the car, no overtake.”

Asked whether it had been unfair of him to disobey the team’s instruction Massa said: “Is it fair to do the best we can?”

“We have two championships, I respect my job, we need to respect each other.”

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155 comments on “Massa defends decision to disobey team orders”

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  1. I bet massa made sure his contract has no clauses to obey team orders so early in the season. good on him, I wished rosberg did the same last year at malaysia

  2. Honestly, I think its good that Massa did not heed this order and instead just tried to go as fast as he could. In his place, I am not that sure Bottas himself would have reacted any differently, just remember the time he was told to let Maldonado go by in his 2nd race for the team last year, he also ignored it.

    By the way, hearing Bottas on the radio reacting when the team told him earlier that he should leave Massa a bit of room, and they would both go past soon was one of the nice moments (The one where he told them to “tell massa to get on with it”)

  3. Seems like elder statesman syndrome from Massa. Always have had very little time for him whining, now this… fool

  4. I think there was a real chance for Bottas to overtake Button. Considering Massa did profit from team orders at the start of the race, the balance doesn’t seem right at the end of the race.

    It looks like Massa considers himself #1 driver in the team and was in need to prove so by not following the team orders. But this you do by being faster than your team mate and I’d bet that Bottas will be in front by the end of the seasson.

    Poor job from the pits on how Massa was instructed, though. If there are certain words that Massa wouldn’t like to hear is “x is faster than you”.

    Jenson thanks Felipe…

  5. last year vettel was vilified for disobeying team orders, now massa is been praised for doing the same.

    just shows how much anti-vettel hate there is amongst f1 fans just because he happens to have been very successful the past few years & of course you can’t let anyone have too much success because thats seen as bad thesedays. utter nonsence!

    1. Team orders should be banned and drivers should be let to race for themseleves, that is why there is a drivers championship and why it is more important then the constructors championship

    2. Massa should listen and obey.

  6. Did you see Claire Williams trying to explain that Massa hearing an order from the team and ignoring it doesn’t translate into “ignoring team orders”?

    Also i’ve noticed a ~500% increase in camera shots into the Williams garage since Claire took over more duties mid-last year. It reminds me of the Sochi Olympics and the shots of young female supporters between EVERY gap in action.

    1. I have not seen 500%increase infact i did not notice her once this race. I will watch the replay of the race, i am 500% sure you are wrong. I saw more of saubers team principal.

  7. If it were much earlier in the race or the gap between them and Button was consistantly getting bigger, then you can give such an order.
    If Bottas couldnt pass Massa on his own, why would you think he can pass Button any easier?
    Very bad move Williams and it may come back to haunt you.
    You have already achieved the maximum points for the day, then for the slim possibility of adding two more points, maximum, you decide to destroy the teams cohesiveness, 2 races into the most promising year in a long time?
    The Pit wall team were very stupid, in my opinion, and should be cautioned for their utterances. I suggest, if the need were ever to arise again, it should be one person with enough common sense to issue such orders to the drivers.
    In my opinion Massa did the right thing and should be given an apology quickly and you may have a more healthy competition tomorrow between the drivers.
    This is a big management issue in my opinion

    1. That has to have been one of the worst examples of ‘man management’ I have ever heard. Well done Williams; any team harmony and moral was broken done in that one moment.
      Maybe, and that’s a maybe, Bottas could have challenged Button and won one more Constructors Championship point but what they have definitely achieved is a lot of bad feelings and a breakdown in whatever positive ambience they have been striving so hard to promote since the end of last season.
      True, we only heard the radio conversation that was deemed by FOM to be worthy enough, but I think we heard enough.

      1. Maybe, and that’s a maybe, Bottas could have challenged Button and won one more Constructors Championship point but what they have definitely achieved is a lot of bad feelings and a breakdown in whatever positive ambience they have been striving so hard to promote since the end of last season.

        That’s it in a nutshell @arki19. Regardless of all the ifs, buts and maybes, Williams botched their driver management right at the start of the season. Sweep all the hypothetical gains to one side – and they were based upon dubious assumptions – they key issue is team cohesion/spirit. Telling one of your drivers to get out of the way on the basis of a highly questionable gain, isn’t very wise imho. Massa was badgered repeatedly which makes it look even worse.

        If Bottas was going to sweep Button out of the way, he’d have been able to pass Massa without team orders. The fact that Massa could hold Bottas up suggests Button would not have been easy to pass either. Being slightly faster than another driver is one thing. Passing him without a helping hand is something else.

        None of my comments have anything to do with favouring one driver over another. I’m just looking at the matter from the likely impact on team spirit/cohesion.

  8. I see what you did there, Pat.

    1. This is a big management issue in my opinion

      Management blunder. The gains that might have accrued by allowing Bottas to attack Button were highly uncertain. Massa was going fast enough to hold Bottas at bay, so it is highly questionable whether Bottas could have achieved what Massa could not. And allowing Bottas to attack could well have resulted in an incident with Button, because the fight would probably have been very hard fought (Massa is an experienced driver and he was in an identical car). Some people might say the team call was about racing, but F1 is also about maximising constructor’s points.

      Team orders are fine if there is a clear benefit from them being applied. In this case the benefit was highly speculative. Conversely, the impact on team-driver relations was fairly obvious. High cost (damage to driver relations/team spirit) versus highly questionable gains (assuming Bottas could have passed Button). So I agree; it was not good management. Even the way the message was put to Massa, and the way it was put repeatedly, displayed a lack of awareness as to the long-term impact on team relations. Yes, the spat may come back to haunt Williams.

      1. Sigh…my reply was to Abba above.

  9. Michael Brown
    30th March 2014, 14:10

    My thoughts:

    Disobeying the team order was not the right thing to do. Bottas had better tires and therefore a better chance to attack Button. What does Massa do? Hold Bottas up so he ruins his tires.

    Although, if the “Bottas is faster than you” message was really sent to Massa first, then his engineer should take some blame for poorly choosing his words. Without justifying why Bottas was faster than Massa, Massa got arrogant and disobeyed the team order.

  10. SennaNmbr1 (@)
    30th March 2014, 14:13

    Massa contradicts himself. “Doing the best we can” was surely to let Bottas overtake.

    However, he was ahead of him for most of if not all of the race, so he deserved to finish ahead. And quite frankly, Bottas was hardly all over him.

  11. Well done Massa. Delighted to see him refuse to move over. Bottas couldn’t pass Massa so why would he have been able to pass Button?

    It’s sad how many people are saying he should have let Bottas past on here though. I didn’t realise F1 Fanatics liked team orders. Or is it just because everyone prefers Bottas? :)

  12. I’m shocked as I read that someone defends williams and bottas.
    I’m more of a bottas supporter. I rate massa as a slave-driver(let alone 2007-2009) but come on…
    massa did good. period. I respect williams as a team, but I don’t like manipulation and fake results.
    if bottas was much faster he should have passed massa without needing a team order. and if he couldn’t challenge massa, how could he challenge button?
    this episode reminds me of raikkonen-grosjean last year.
    get real and admit team orders are ridiculous and discredit f1 as a sport.
    team orders are one of the biggest disgrace in this “sport”. One should win or pass using his own talent, but talent is not the main feature anymore in this “sport”.

    why did fia give penalties to ricciardo while they have never done anything to prevent ridiculous team orders?
    of course you are a team, but your driver is someone who struggles for points, not a robot who can be manipulated as you please.
    williams, ferrari, rbr, mercedes…shame on you for discrediting f1… and fia thanks for crucifyng ricciardo and doing nothing for such aberrant episodes.

  13. Just listening to Tim Kravitz’s interview with Claire Williams… haha I love it.

    Kravitz: “How could you do that to Felipe – to impose team orders”
    Williams: “Well, that’s racing”
    Kravitz: “It’s not racing if it’s team orders”

    Good lad!

    1. Love the bluntness of his question(s).

      Did anyone else notice the way Claire Williams quoted Massa when Kravitz asked if Felipe had replied to that message? A mocking tone of voice which saying what he said in reply.

    2. F1 is a team sport

  14. While I somewhat respect Massa for not moving over, I think it is laughable to claim that it was in the team’s best interest not to let Bottas have a go at Button.

    1. @kaiie why? we could have seen a battle bottas v button. We the spectators didnt get to see this because massa was selfish and forgot he is part of a team. Maybe the team should send him out without wheels and tyres for the next race? it would remind him of a few things

  15. Looking at the lap times, Bottas would’ve overtake Button on the last lap if Massa would’ve let him pass.

    1. @crandreico

      Implying that Button is a pushover to pass.

      Button knows how to fight… Hence why Massa couldn’t overtake him earlier in the race, when Massa had multiple opportunities to.

      Bottas could have gotten close, but to say for dead certain that he would have passed is a naïve assumption.

      1. Button knows how to fight…

        Yeah rrrrrrright!!!!!!!! Just like that time that alonso took him on the outside of a corner in Brasil one or two years ago??? Even Brundle said “come on Jenson!!” as in: really, Jenson??

  16. Massa did right.
    He had been told for the half of his career to yield positions to Schumi and Fernando. So, him being told that Valteri is faster than him and allow him to pass would be the last thing Massa would want to hear.
    At least now Felipe should be allowed to race.

  17. Massa made the right call. He was told not to hold Bottas up, not to stop in the middle of the track to let him through. Bottas only came within reaasonable distance from Massa on the last lap, when it was too late for either of them to catch Button, therefore Massa had no reason to gift Bottas two extra points.

    1. +1.

      Had exactly that feeling while watching the race, and was about to post the same comment.

    2. @fixy @cole and we the spectators missed out on a battle bottas vs button…well done

      1. I have no time to take you seriously, but I won’t deny I’m happy to prove you wrong. Bottas couldn’t even catch a “slow” Massa, how on earth could he have fought Button who was a further second ahead? And being there only a couple of laps, Bottas would’ve stayed behind and Massa would now be four points further behind him (Bottas +2, Massa -2).

  18. Did anyone notice that Williams were the only team spending too less fuel at any point of race? I reckon their fuel usage is suboptimal which could probably explain the reason why they lack a lot of pace relative to other teams.

    1. I agree, something for them to work on in next few races

  19. Well, now we cant deny that Felipe its a renewed person! Felipe did the right thing, and i hope he makes it everytime it happen! Great job from both drivers, btw! Cant wait next circuit!

  20. I see Bottas as the stronger of the two. He had really good pace throughout the race. He shouldn’t have disobeyed and I do think this is going to bite him sometime later in the season.

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