McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh has said that he is unfazed by speculation that his drivers close on track battle at last weekends Bahrain Grand Prix could boil down to a feud.
The Woking based squad’s had a tense race last weekend after Jenson Button and Sergio batled closely in the midfield. Button shared his first hand feelings on what was an aggressive race by team-mate Sergio Perez that eventually saw the Mexican hit the back of Button’s car. The dueling pair battled for almost a third of the race before Perez eventually got the upper hand.
But that was not before the two touched, Button citing their full throttle clash on the run to turn four as his team-mates most dangerous maneuver, in combat. The Brit radioed the team asking for his team-mate to “calm down” but Perez continued to scrap for position. Button then pushed his team-mate off track to prove who was boss, but Perez obviously took Whitmarsh’s “toughen up” comments to heart and eventually swooped past to claim an eventual sixth place finish.
Despite Button being furious at the time, Martin Whitmarsh told Autosport that the two drivers had discussed the incident after the race and all was fine in the McLaren camp. “I have spoken to Jenson now and the thing is he is so mature in his attitude,”
“That is the good thing about Jenson. He can stand back and be reflective in a way that you cannot when you are hot and sticky after just stepping out of the cockpit.
“Very quickly he gets to that point where, because he is an intelligent guy, he will know that Sergio is not a bad guy.”
Whitmarsh also believed that the huge amount of pressure put on Perez after a far from satisfactory start to his McLaren career caused the aggressive race craft, the Mexican possibly on a charge to prove the doubters wrong.
“Jenson knows his team-mate has been under the hammer,”
“He [Perez] is young, he has had a bit of pressure, he has something to learn and he had a point to prove.”
He added “He was just a guy under pressure who possibly pushed a little bit too hard on some of those issues, but that is human.
“They are easy guys to manage because they are really good people, and there is a good spirit between all parts of the team.
“We are racers and each half of the garage wants to beat the other half, but I think it is a good dynamic.”
The battle is far from the controversy and upset of Red Bull’s highly documented Malaysian Grand Prix bust-up and both drivers showed strong maturity to settle the issue and smooth things over.
McLaren will now switch focus to Barcelona where they will bring a raft of big upgrades after a contrasting Bahrain Grand Prix, Button slipping to 10th and Perez driving well to finish sixth.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic