Whitmarsh gave no orders to McLaren’s battling drivers

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed he did not issue any team orders to his battling drivers during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The no-holds-barred tussle between Sergio Perez and Jenson Button saw Perez nudge the back of his team mate at turn four, then Button force him off the track later on.

Perez ultimately prevailed but Button did not disguise his displease at his team mate’s tactics, calling them “too aggressive”.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed that, despite recent high-profile rows involving team orders, he did not instruct his drivers to back off.

“There were a lot of people on the edge of the nerves. But I did not issue a team order to them. That is not the way we go racing, and you cannot change your philosophy.”

However he did issue a rebuke to Perez for making contact with Button: “The one thing I did not approve of was hitting your team mate. He overstepped the mark. I gave my view on that.”

“But he is young and still learning. I would prefer to have to pull a racer back rather than have to push them forward. You would expect a driver to be hardwired to behave as Checo did in a deadly battle.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

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