It wasn’t shaping up to be Valtteri Bottas’ weekend when he became the first Formula One driver this year to be awarded penalty points and a three place grid penalty for the start of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
It didn’t get any better when he felt like he was faster than his team mate, Felipe Massa, but Massa refused to yield.
“I’ve got more pace!” Valterri was heard over the team radio, referring to his colleague. It was not until there were only four laps left in the race that the team spoke.
“Felipe, Valtteri is faster than you,” the words came from the garage as the seasoned driver was told to let the rookie pass. Massa however, had other ideas and the pair crossed the line with Massa leading Bottas by a mere 0.461 seconds.
Massa was unapologetic after the race.
“We scored points with both cars. I was fighting till the last lap to get as many points as we could – I was fighting with Jenson [Button].”
The Brazilian’s focus seemed to be on his fight with McLaren driver Jenson Button who was in sixth.
“I think if Valtteri couldn’t pass me it was going to be difficult to get past Jenson as well. I think I did the right thing.”
“The team has shown a lot of respect for me since the first time, so I shouldn’t change– I need to fight for everything I can for my best as well.”
“I don’t regret what I did.”
It is an interesting twist on the “Multi 21” team order at the Sepang International Circuit. Last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix saw a similar situation with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel ignoring the order to let teammate Mark Webber hold on to his lead. In that case of course, the stakes were much higher and the controversy that ensued plagued the German for months. In the William’s case, it may be the beginnings of a rivalry that will play out over the rest of the season.
Adding insult to injury, this is not the first time Massa has found himself in this situation. In 2010 at the German Grand Prix, the race engineer said to his driver:
“Fernando is faster than you. Can you confirm you understand that message?”
Shortly after that, Massa did let the Spanish driver by. It seems this time, he was not going to be so compliant.
Image via XPB