McLaren’s Perez puts up feisty effort for sixth

2 Comments
This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

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.

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
Leave a comment

Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.