Former McLaren driver and multiple Grand Prix winner John Watson, has castigated Jenson Button was requesting his team to instruct Sergio Perez to ease off during their heated scrap during the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend.
“If Pérez gives Button a difficult time, it’s up to Button to come to terms with it,” said Watson whilst speaking with BBC Sport. “It’s a fact of life. He can’t expect Martin Whitmarsh to tell Pérez to back off. If your kid team-mate is pushing you hard, it’s not nice, but its part of the game. You have to respond by getting in and doing the best job.”
To McLaren’s credit, they did allow their drivers to race without intervention despite Whitmarsh conceding to a few nervous moments.
“There were a lot of people on the edge of the nerves. But I did not issue a team order to them” cited Whitmarsh. “That is not the way we go racing, and you cannot change your philosophy.”
Watson was famous for some astounding drives from the rear of the grid, particularly in 1982 at Detroit where he passed three cars in the opening lap of the tight, serpentine circuit to score an emphatic victory. He scored another tour de force a year later at Long Beach – winning after starting 22nd on the grid. Watson was full of praise for Perez, outling the need for the young Mexican to lay a marker down sooner rather than later.
“Someone like Pérez is fast, fiery and keen to lay down his own scent trail, like animals in the jungle, to establish a pecking order in team,” he said. “He is desperate to show what he can do, especially as he has not done an awful lot in the opening three races.
“Button is very experienced and the number one driver in that team, even though McLaren say there is no number one and number two. But because he is in that position, he has a target on his back and Pérez will think that if he beats him, he’ll be in the pound seat.”
Watson’s final victory was also earmarked by a spirited fight with then McLaren team-mate Niki Lauda.
Image Courtesy of McLaren Automotive