Formula 1


Ferrari calm after Massa ignores team orders

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Ferrari are playing it cool after it emerged Felipe Massa did ignore team orders at the Japanese Grand Prix.

During the early laps at Suzuka Massa and his team-mate Fernando Alonso were running in formation in seventh and eighth when the Brazilian's engineer Rob Smedley came on the radio and said: "Multi-function strategy A. Now, please".

It has since been revealed that was code for 'let Alonso pass'.

"We cannot make a big thing about it," Alonso said to reporters afterwards, hinting he understands Massa's frustration.

"Sometimes it's difficult, especially when you are fighting for seventh, eighth place.

"It would be nice to go back to the old days in Ferrari, fighting for first and second and deciding who wins the races, like Red Bull does," he added.

In an event very similar to the infamous 'multi-21' incident between Red Bull's Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia, Massa confirmed after the race that he did indeed disobey the order on purpose.

"It was an instruction," the Brazilian confirmed to reporters.

"We're never happy with instructions," added Massa. "Whatever happened in the race was not over any instruction; he overtook me on the track.

"We fought on the track," added reiterated.

He is quoted by Speed Week: "I have said several times now that I do not make presents. And I've said that I am racing for me -- I am doing my races."

Indeed on a circuit that is notoriously difficult to overtake on, it was quite a few laps until Alonso was able to pass Massa on the track using DRS down to turn 1.

After the race team boss Stefano Domenicali also played down Massa's actions.

"I can understand his feeling," he said. "The team will totally support him until the end of the season, no problem."

Massa may not have been the only apparent 'number two' driver feeling aggrieved after the Japan race on Sunday.

Among the F1 community suspicions are running high that Mark Webber could have been changed onto a three-stop strategy midway through the race to boost Vettel's chances of victory.

"All of a sudden we decided to do a three," the Australian, who watched as Vettel extended his winning streak to five, revealed.

"I was a little bit surprised. I asked was it the right thing to do."

However one of Vettel's close allies within Red Bull, Dr Helmut Marko, insisted there was no deliberate attempt to sabotage Webber's race to Vettel's benefit.

"No!" he told Germany's Bild am Sonntag.

"We chose during the race to change our strategy because we could not assess whether Grosjean is doing two or three stops.

"If we had done nothing, we would have been second and third," Marko added.

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