Ferrari seeks to downplay team orders incident

"No problem" after Felipe Massa apparently ignored instructions, says Fernando Alonso

Madrid -
Felipe Massa (front) and Fernando Alonso joust during the Japanese Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa (front) and Fernando Alonso joust during the Japanese Grand Prix. DIEGO AZUBEL (EFE)

Formula 1 team Ferrari sought to play down the importance of one of their drivers, Felipe Massa, apparently ignoring an order to let his teammate, Fernando Alonso, pass him during the Japanese Grand Prix, which was run in Suzuka on Sunday.

This season will mark the end of Massa's seven-year spell at Ferrari, during which time he has mostly played the role of a support driver — most recently for Spanish double world champion Alonso.

Since his departure was announced by the team, however, he has said he will be racing for himself. With no drive secured for 2014, Massa is out to impress.

During the early stages of Sunday's race, Massa was given a coded instruction when Fernando Alonso was behind him. The Brazilian driver did not, however, move over to let the Spaniard past, forcing the latter to have to fight to overtake him on the start-finish straight on lap 20.

Speaking to the press after the race, Alonso said that he was not upset by the incident.

"We cannot make a big thing about this," he said. "I don't know exactly what happened, but zero problems."

"Felipe is trying to be as quick as possible, and I can understand his feeling," team principal Stefano Domenicali added. "But of course he will find the team totally supporting him until the end of the season, no problem."

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won Sunday's race, with Alonso finishing fourth and Massa crossing the line in 10th place.

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