Felipe Massa says he was happy to be battling for the lead with Valtteri Bottas during the early stages of the British Grand Prix, insisting it is normal that each driver should feel the 'need to fight'.

A stunning start from third on the grid saw Massa take a surprise lead from the opening corner, with team-mate Bottas joining him to run 1-2 during the first stint on the option tyres.

However, though Williams initially told both drivers to hold station and work together to pull away from the close-following Mercedes', Bottas felt he was the quicker of the two drivers and requested permission to attempt a pass.

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Getting the go-ahead to do so, Bottas would eventually stay behind his team-mate after his tyres lost their edge, an order they would maintain after the pit-stops too when rain came to shake up proceedings. Despite the mixed messages, Massa says he wasn't concerned by Bottas' intentions, saying he was the faster of the two on the latter hard tyres anyway.

"I was trying to hold my position, I was not doing anything wrong. Where he was better than me and was catching me was on the back straight before corner 15. But corner 15 is a high speed corner, I was just going inside on the few times he was close enough.

"He tried to go on the outside but he was never going to pass me on the outside of that corner. I think we were fighting, Mercedes was fighting, it shows the driver need to fight. Valtteri was a little bit better than me on the option tyres but I was quicker than him on the hard tyres and I was opening the gap. Everything that happened today was definitely correct, part of normal racing."

"I think he just got close. I understand that the team sometimes gets a little bit afraid because we know the result is the most important thing. It was difficult for Valtteri to pass me, it was difficult for the Mercedes to pass him as well. So nothing changed, everything we did today didn't cost any positions."

With rain coming in the closing stages, Massa suffered in the changing conditions, dropping behind Nico Rosberg first, then losing out to Sebastian Vettel after pitting a lap later than was optimum, leaving him a frustrated fourth.

"The rain started and we did right to stay out on track at first, because it was so easy to stop and then just go back out with the track too dry and destroy the tyres. But then we stayed out too long. So we made a mistake,that was the biggest mistake to stay so long on the track and not stop when the others stopped.

"I was even telling the team 'maybe corner 15 is too difficult', or maybe a different corner, through all these laps in the rain. Even once - two laps before I stopped - I even said 'I think now it's getting too difficult' but then they asked me to stay out and then I tried. For sure it was a mistake, but apart from that our car was too slow in the rain."