Williams: Driver swap let Vandoorne through
2 October 2017 – Williams chief Paddy Lowe says the decision to switch Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll cost both drivers a place to Stoffel Vandoorne at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Stroll jumped ahead of Massa at the start, after the Brazilian was delayed in contact with Esteban Ocon, but Massa used the undercut to clear Stroll, who expressed his displeasure at the situation.
Williams instructed Massa to cede position to Stroll and the pair duly swapped places, moments after passing McLaren's Vandoorne, who had lost out through pitting later.
However, both Stroll and Massa ran deep into Turn 1, clearing the path for Vandoorne, who moved ahead.
"Unfortunately, Felipe, having got as far as fifth position, got squeezed by the two Force Indias and lost some of those gains, dropping behind Lance," said Lowe.
"He damaged part of the floor on the left-hand side so there will have been some performance loss.
"Once the race had settled, [Nico] Hülkenberg stopped very early so we felt obliged to cover him to save position, first with Felipe and then with Lance.
"Since Lance, who previously had the lead, ended up behind Felipe after the pitstops we felt it was correct to swap the places.
"We also knew Felipe's car was carrying some damage.
"Unfortunately, in the execution of that we lost a potential position to Vandoorne coming out of the pits."
Stroll went on to classify eighth, in front of Massa, as Williams moved 13 points clear of Toro Rosso in the battle for fifth in the standings.