Sergio Perez’s sixth-place outing for McLaren in Bahrain was certainly an eye-opening one — especially so for teammate Jenson Button and team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who later said that the Mexican was “a little too combative” in his on-track battles against the former World Champion.
But in hindsight, a bit of attitude may have well been expected from Perez after he was urged by Whitmarsh to “toughen up” after last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. In terms of the big picture, Perez responded well by notching eight points with his result.
“I guess I was a little aggressive on track today; banging wheels with Jenson was perhaps a little too risky, a little too hard, but the team never came on the radio to tell us to stop racing,” he explained. “There were no team orders. There was a lot of adrenaline from both of us, and Jenson is always a very strong racer, but hopefully we’ll help each other a little more in the future.”
Perez indicated that his British counterpart was willing to let the matter slide, however — perhaps because Button also managed to finish in the points with a 10th place finish for the team’s first “double-score” of 2013.
“[Button] was calm and friendly after the race, though, which was great; but that isn’t surprising because he’s a great guy as well as a great driver,” Perez said.
Whitmarsh called the McLaren drivers’ proximity to each other during the race “nail-bitingly close” at times, but said that his team would always allow their men to race.
“It’s what this sport is all about,” he said. “Having said that, it’s probably fair to say that [Perez] was a little too combative with Jenson this afternoon, and I think he knows that.”
But all’s well that ends well for the Woking gang, which now looks forward to using the three-week break to fine-tune a wave of upgrades on its MP4-28 machines for the Spanish Grand Prix in May.