Williams driver Felipe Massa is standing by his decision to ignore team orders to let teammate Valtteri Bottas pass him in the closing stages of Sunday’s Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, saying the team should recognize he has his own interests to pursue in the drivers’ championship.
Massa was repeatedly told to let Bottas past to enable the Finn to chase the McLaren of Jenson Button, but Massa refused to make way, and finished seventh and Bottas eighth, with Button holding on for sixth.
“We have two championships,” Massa said after the race. “I respect my job, we need to respect each other.
“I don’t think things will be different or strange when I get back to the garage. I’m doing the best I can to help the team and they need to do the same as well.”
The incident evoked memories of the 2010 German GP when Massa was ordered to make way for then Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso. Ferrari was fined for issuing team orders, which were banned at the time but have since been approved. Massa has since said that race was the lowest point of his career, worse than the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix when he suffered a serious head injury.
It also recalled last year’s Malaysian GP when Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders and passed Mark Webber for the race win, causing a major falling-out between the two drivers.
Bottas said “there was a really good chance for me to get Jenson, I was charging really quickly” but Massa disagreed.
“I was there, I was fighting,” Massa said. “It’s not like we were on two completely different strategies. He stopped just after me and his tires were slightly better but not enough to pass me and not enough to pass Jenson as well.”