John Watson respects Perez’s fighting spirit

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Former McLaren driver John Watson has told Jenson Button to stop complaining about Sergio Perez after the two teammates went head-to-head in last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

During the race, Button came under pressure from Perez who was on a different strategy. The Mexican driver lost his front wing endplate when trying to make a move, before eventually getting past the 2009 world champion a few laps later.

Despite protesting the move, Button could not respond, and he did not hide his annoyance after the race. However, Watson believes that Button should just face facts and admit that he was slower.

“If Perez gives Button a difficult time, it’s up to Button to come to terms with it,” Watson told the BBC.

“It’s a fact of life. He can’t expect Martin Whitmarsh to tell Perez to back off.”

Instead of complaining, Watson encouraged Button to respond by fighting back and dealing with the situation on track.

“If your kid teammate is pushing you hard, it’s not nice, but it’s part of the game. You have to respond by getting in and doing the best job.”

Watson also said that Button’s experience and credentials made him a yardstick for Perez this season.

“Button is very experienced and the number one driver in that team, even though McLaren say there is no number one and number two.

“He has a target on his back and Perez will think that if he beats him, he’ll be in the pound seat at McLaren.”

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh has held talks between the drivers to discuss on track etiquette, and McLaren will be keen to avoid a similar situation when Formula One returns to Europe in two weeks’ time.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.