Apr.23 (GMM/Inautonews.com) McLaren resisted the urge to call off the on-track spat between teammates Jenson Button and Sergio Perez in Bahrain, boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed.
Button could be heard angrily remonstrating on the radio for the British team to “calm” Mexican newcomer Perez’s wheel-to-wheel charge.
Afterwards, the 23-year-old was rebuked by Whitmarsh because “endplate to rear tyre could have punctured Jenson and broken his (Perez’s) front wing”.
But McLaren, he says, prides itself on not issuing the kinds of team orders that Red Bull and Mercedes controversially imposed in Malaysia recently.
“I had a lot of noise in my ear from people suggesting I should stop them racing. We didn’t,” Whitmarsh said.
“I think it was the right thing in the long term for both drivers to know they are racing each other and be competitive.
“We’ve seen it a couple of times this year, and the driver behind is always going to believe he was quicker, he’s always going to be aggrieved.”
Whitmarsh said breaking with a long-standing policy of strict driver equality would not have been the right choice.
“Those guys are out there fighting and you can’t suddenly decide halfway through a race ‘Oh, by the way, I didn’t mean it. Don’t fight because it looks uncomfortable for me’.”
Lewis Hamilton, the former long-time McLaren driver who in Malaysia was protected from new Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg’s charge, backed Whitmarsh’s stance.
“That’s the good thing about Martin,” the 2008 world champion told the Telegraph.
“He allows his drivers to race. He doesn’t change. We are there to race — as long as it is effective, and with respect with each other.”
F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello, however, has a slightly different view.
Having analysed Sunday’s race for Brazilian television Globo, he said: “I think McLaren was trying different strategies to separate its drivers because they were fighting.
“Five laps later they were fighting again,” he told Brazil’s Totalrace. “Sometimes different strategies have the same result.”
Button, meanwhile, declared the ‘team war’ with Perez to be over, because the Mexican had apologised.
“Checo has apologised,” the 2009 world champion is quoted by the Sun. “We had a good discussion.”