Williams backtracks on team orders

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Bahrain, Bahrain International Circuitbh

Deputy team principal Claire Williams has apologised for her team imposing team orders during the Malaysian Grand Prix, saying it is against the wishes of the team's fans.

Towards the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, Felipe Massa was repeatedly asked to let Bottas by, judging that the Finn had a better chance of catching Button who was just 2 seconds ahead of Massa. Bottas was on the more durable tyre but did not appear to be fast enough to pass his team mate on pace.

Following Massa refusal to obey to the orders, the team sat down with Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, with Bottas not wishing to come back on his decision.

Claire Williams however made a U-turn on her team's decision, admitting that the call to Massa was the wrong thing to do.

"Our fans expect us as a team to let our drivers race, and that's the overriding disappointment," she said at Bahrain. "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 of our drivers particularly well either, so of course we've apologised to our drivers."

Williams mentioned that the team did prepare some scenarios in which team orders would be imposed, but the situation that arose was not part of that preparation. She also hinted that the particular wording of the order "Valtteri is faster than you", was probably not the best way, especially knowing it was identical to some team orders given to the Brazilian during his stay at Ferrari.

"The instruction that was given in the way it was given, considering history, wasn't the most advised," she added. "But engineers, sat on a pit wall that is a highly pressurised environment, are people and people can sometimes make the wrong calls. We're only human, at the end of the day. But as long as we correct them and hold our hands up, that's the most important thing."

Both drivers reacted to Williams' comments, both saying they were happy with the eventual outcome and prepared to obey to team orders if absolutely necessary.