Deputy boss Claire Williams told reporters in Bahrain that the biggest regret was the way Felipe Massa was told to give way to teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Indeed, Massa on Thursday was quoted by Brazil’s Globo as saying that when he was told ‘Valtteri is faster than you’, he immediately thought of Hockenheim 2010, when Ferrari moved him out of the way of Fernando Alonso.
“Of course I thought about it. When I heard that phrase it almost seemed like a joke,” he said.
Claire Williams admitted: “Certainly the instruction given in the way it was given, considering (Massa’s) history, wasn’t the most advised.”
But Massa insists that he ignored the order not because of the way it was given, but because moving aside in that scenario “was not right”.
“Our fans expect us as a team to let our drivers race, and that’s the overriding disappointment,” Williams agreed.
“So to our fans we want to apologise because we didn’t handle it in the best way.
“Of course, we’ve apologised to our drivers, which was the right thing to do at the end of the day,” she added.
However, not everyone agrees with Massa and Williams.
Double world champion Mika Hakkinen thinks the Brazilian’s emotions simply “boiled over” when he heard the Ferrari-like team order issued.
But “I believe it will be made clear to Massa that when instructions are made, they must be followed,” the Finn said in a column for Hermes.
When asked if he would have moved over had Williams ordered him in the same way, Bottas said in Bahrain: “Yes, if they asked me to, I would.
“If I knew I could not race someone and he could, it would be fair.
“Sometimes team orders are just necessary to get the most points for the team,” he is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace.
Massa, however, insists it is not him who should be apologising after Malaysia.
“When I do something that is my mistake, I will be the first one to say sorry,” he said. “And the team was the first one to say sorry” after Malaysia.
But that doesn’t mean Williams won’t issue team orders again in the future.
“There are some things which are quite confidential with the team’s rules and how you play it,” said Bottas. “There are different scenarios, and everything’s sorted.” (GMM)