Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished third and fourth at the Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.
Sebastian Vettel won the race after overtaking team-mate Mark Webber despite his team ordering him not to do so.
In contrast, Rosberg questioned the Mercedes call for him to stay behind Hamilton, who was slowing his pace to conserve fuel.
Lapping faster than his new team-mate, Rosberg showed a desire to go past and claim third but eventually held station following a request from team boss, Ross Brawn.
He said afterwards: “I was quicker and I wanted to go for third. I heard the call on the radio and I asked again for clarification. I wanted third, I am a racing driver but the team instructed me to hold my position and that is what I did.”
Hamilton as a result was handed his 50th podium finish in a Grand Prix by Rosberg’s loyalty to Mercedes. He said: “I don’t feel I should be on the podium today. Nico was quicker than me and deserved this position.”
The ramifications of the Mercedes call to allow Hamilton to finish ahead of Rosberg could be a pointer of things to come as the season progresses.
However, the Mercedes duo were able to show good pace against their rivals and their points haul from Malaysia was the most scored in one single race since Mercedes returned to F1 as a factory team.
An improvement in the design of the team’s exhausts has been cited as a reason for the increase in pace and confidence of further podium finishes and victories is high at the Brackley-based team’s headquarters.
Rosberg added: “I was able to win in China last year. We believed at that time we had a car capable of winning races. We lost our way slightly after that but I do believe we are now in a position to win and that is what we aim to do in the next race.”
Drivers’ standings after round two: 1. Vettel (Red Bull) 40; 2. Raikkonen (Lotus) 31; 3. Webber (Red Bull) 26; 4. Hamilton (Mercedes) 25; 5. Massa (Ferrari) 22; 6. Alonso (Ferrari) 18; 7. Rosberg (Mercedes).