McLaren don’t fear Perez and Button feud after duo bang wheels in Bahrain
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Apr 2013   |  1:36 pm GMT  |  251 comments

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is confident Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will be able to move on after the team mates clashed several times in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Perez, who joined McLaren from Sauber this season, has had a lacklustre start to the season, prompting Whitmarsh to tell him earlier this week that he needs to “toughen up” and “use his elbows” – and in Bahrain, the Mexican did just that.

The 23-year-old boldly overtook Red Bull’s Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to show signs of the spark which attracted McLaren to him in the first place. However, Whitmarsh was probably not expecting Perez to be so robust when racing his team mate.

While fighting over fifth place, Perez tapped the back of Button, breaking off a part of his front wing. Luckily for McLaren, it didn’t puncture Button’s rear tyre, nor necessitate a new front wing for Perez but it did prompt Button to get on the radio and say: “He’s just hit me up the back. Calm him down.”

The pair then banged wheels at high speed as Perez, who was faster than Button at that stage of the race, tried an ambitious move around the outside but Button defended, even squeezing his team mate off the track and onto the dusty run-off.

“It was uncomfortable for Jenson,” said Whitmarsh. “But they’re two good guys and I think they’ll work it out. We’ll probably get the two together and have a chat to them and let them talk amongst themselves.”

Whitmarsh said he had told Perez, known as Checo, after the race that hitting his team mate was unacceptable but otherwise praised his new charge’s ambition and spark as he went on to finish sixth, four places ahead of Button.

“Rule number one, don’t hit your team mate. That could have been a puncture for Jenson and taken his own front wing off. If he’d have come back to the garage then, he’d have been for it – and he knows that. Unquestionably that was over the limit. Wheel-to-wheel banging was marginal but you don’t jump on a youngster who has just done that.

“I want him to feel good. I told him one of the moves was beyond what I consider to be OK but he’s a young guy. I want him to enjoy the moment and what he did. It was some really spirited, tough driving. We’ll be calm and go through the other stuff.”

Button was furious with Perez after the race saying: “I’m not used to driving down a straight and your team mate wiggling his wheels at you and banging wheels at 300kph. That’s things you do in karting but grow out of. That’s not the case with Checo.

“We’ll have to have a little chat I think because I don’t like banging wheels at 300kph. That’s dangerous. He has to calm down. I mean, he’s extremely quick and did a great job today but some of it is unnecessary and an issue when you’re doing those speeds.”

Whitmarsh added: “Jenson doesn’t appreciate all that but the great thing is he’s a grown up. If he’s been beaten by his team mate and he’s happy I’d be concerned, but I’m not concerned that he feels like he does because that’s how he should do, but he’ll get over it.

“Very quickly he gets to that point where, because he is an intelligent guy, he will know that Sergio is not a bad guy.”

Perez admitted he was too aggressive in Bahrain, but said his team mate was equally as assertive.

He said: “I agree that we were too aggressive, but he was as aggressive as I was. I went out of the track a few times. We were fighting. This is something we have to speak about to sort it out.

“Hopefully for the next race we can help each other a little bit more, but with the pace of our car and where we were we could not give any room to anyone so we were fighting really hard.”

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As has been said, McLaren were at fault here not the drivers. The strategy was changed before the first stops happened when they brought Checo in first, in front of the lead driver. This gave Checo the undercut and put Jenson into massive traffic when he came out. JB destroyed his tyres in this traffic and this started the downhill spiral we all watched. I also agree that it was especially important for McLaren to get Checo up as far as possible considering they had the richest man in the world sitting there as a potential sponsor watching what was going on. JB is a tough cookie and trust me as someone who has met him on several occasions, he will be back scoring good points for the team. I happen to think that this line up is a good one and I say good luck to both of them.


Yes, I agree. That first stop ruined Jenson’s strategy. I wonder if it was coincidental that it happened during the very weekend that the Slim family was there. In hindsight Jenson shouldn’t have fought so hard against Sergio because it ruined his tyres and all the hard work he’d done during the first half of the race went right out the window. It’s great that we saw Sergio coming alive during this race but I think he walked a fine line with the way he fought against his team mate. I’m inclined to believe that had he hit someone elses rear end he wouldn’t be the hero he’s been made out to be.


Looks like Button is struggling again… More egg in the face of Whitmarsh and Button.

These two are destroying McLaren. Hamilton could not work with these under achievers.

Perez is sandwiched too… but he has the money to override the pair.

McLaren will not improve until the pair of them are replaced with competent people.


Rob, please tell me what has McLaren achieved in the last 10 years, even when the team was being run by Ron Dennis. Let me remind you, one very lucky WDC and nothing else. The team has been on the ropes with their bad cars at the start of each season for years and has nothing to do with Jenson and Martin. This year everyone was hyping the new McLaren and it typically turned out to be a dog. The one thing that I find very interesting is how unsuccessful the mighty team were even during the 6 years Hamilton was there. Please stop with the finger pointing and watch the sport that we all enjoy.


The famous fight between Schumacher and Hakkinen at Spa 2000: Is this dangerous driving? Button, please give us your views.

Some would say that overtake from Hakkinen was thrilling to say the least. Others might say Schumacher was defending dangerously, leaving no room for Hakkinen. Still Others might say both drivers were equally skilled with their hands, as well, as their heads, and that, Hakkinen beat Schumacher hands down on this one on both ends. Bernie might say anything; sorry, can’t help you there.

My dad says, driving a car at 300 Km/hr is just dangerous! Full stop! Go figure.


Button is not shy of having a good battle with another competitor, it has been mentioned plenty of times over the last 2 seasons.

What he doesn’t expect is to drive wheel-to-wheel with his team mate over a number of laps.

That’s the big mistake Button made. In the case where the Team will not give orders, he shouldn’t have defended & wrecked his own race, it would have been far better for Perez (sorry, I don’t know him well enough to call him ‘Checo’) to easily pass Button in an effort to catch Webber.

I feel that Button is honest enough to admit to himself that he messed-up & thing could have been much better……with hindsight.


..and i’ll say Schumacher had blistered rear tyres that day and was repeatedly running into wet patches to keep them cool. So for Hakkinen it was just a matter of time to snatch that position from Schumi, and i must admit, he did so quite spectacularly.


I think Perez just misjudged braking when he hit Button’s back. It wasn’t dangerous driving. Surely someone with Button’s experience should have understood that and talked to Perez about it behind closed doors. After all, you did squeeze Perez offtrack. Perez isn’t the big, bad wolf, is he? The fight between those two was just good, hard racing as it should be. Button’s overreaction just displays his insecurity.

Button does have varied skills that help him get results when situations get tricky. In normal circumstances, his pace just doesn’t do it. Just be honest with yourself, Button. Acknowledge your strengths and, more importantly, your weaknesses, and work on getting the best out every weekend, rather than putting 60% of your efforts on track and leaving the remaining 40% offtrack to play political mind games to manipulate your teammate into feeling the “pressure” with help from friends in the media (opinion leaders).

I wonder how much of this special Button skill had an effect on Hamilton (if at all) while he was at McLaren. That’s assuming I’m right in Button’s assessment. I can be wrong. My apologies in that case!


Well done McLaren for ruining Checo’s race.

THanks for sticking up for Button because P5 was up for grabs for Checo if the team had the balls to use team orders.


Im happy they didn’t use team orders. Neither should RBR and Mercedes.


Yeah he was only 0.7secs behind his Mclaren predecessor at the flag.


SP and JB went around 1.5s slower when they started to fight each other, so yeah, if JB used the brain for the team, P5 had a real chance to be taken.


The comments on here are either bashing Jenson and then praising Perez or the other way round.

Formula one is turning into a side show, the racing side is slowly evaporating from the sport.

Tyres and fuel are now governing race strategy rather than letting drivers race.

Then when Vettel goes racing he gets lambasted for not obeying team orders.

Bring back the good old days of wheel to wheel racing before it removes the attraction.


Not anything against Sergio butI think he walked a thin line on sunday by being that aggressive against his own teammate. if he or Jenson had failed to finish that race, most of our comments would have been different; wondering why Mclaren went for the ‘slow Mexican boy’ when the likes of Hulkenberg were available.


I think button got owned. As far as the bump from Perez on button I think Perez was just trying to take a late apex and out drag Button out of the corner and just miss judge it slightly. Mclaren needs Perez to be a racer because button is not.


Yes, I think Perez ‘owned the stage’.


Although your commentary with Gary Anderson is excellent (and better than the BBC TV team IMO), I did feel that the line you took on this was confused because Gary fell into the same trap that Martin Brundle used to and DC does now – the analyst should sit back and quietly analyse what’s going on, but it’s all to easy for him to get distracted by being drawn into minute by minute commentary.

This race was exceptionally confusing because there were three strategies all unfolding at once, not just the usual two. In this case, it was easy to assume that Button and Perez were racing each other, but actually they weren’t. The reason why JB was holding up SP was that JB’s tyres were shot and SP’s weren’t. This signalled that JB was going to need four stops, but SP wouldn’t – so SP was going to finish higher.

To be fair to Gary, his post-race article acknowledged this and he changed his tune from what he had said during the race. However I think he might have realised it at the time if he had been a little more analytical.

With hindsight, JB was already beaten and just holding SP up pointlessly. If he hadn’t, SP might have finished a place higher in the end, so SP’s impatience is understandable. The team could have instructed JB to let him pass, but that would have been problematical – we’ve seen subsequently that MW will have a difficult job to do in massaging JB’s wounded ego if SP continues to beat him. I wouldn’t write off JB just yet though – SP is great sometimes, but erratic.

Tornillo Amarillo

James, you say that Whitmarsh told PEREZ that he needs to “toughen up” and “use his elbows” and that in Bahrain the Mexican did just that.

So now, before Spain, I think Whitmarsh has to say that PEREZ needs to WIN a race to show that he really deserves to be in Formula 1, and Checo will obey again…


Hi James,

I’ve seen similar debates on the same on other F1 websites and I have to say that the level of debate is far greater than sites that should know better! It’s a credit to you and your team that you have maintained such a high standard of debate. This goes for pretty much everything I read on this site. Not sure if its merits a post, but it’s just something that I wanted to say thanks for keeping me informed.


Thanks for the feedback

It’s increasingly difficult to maintain the standards, as we get more and more posts that don’t meet the rules


Say thanks to the new drivers,this site is pretty unknown at Latin America, but ive seen a lot of spanish speakers here now… so new drivers new fan sites…


Can anyone tell me why F1 cars don’t have break lights?


very funny!

Tom in adelaide

Hi, very offtopic, but thought people might find Formula E this interesting:

These thing sound just like RC cars! Excruciating. :p


Always been a JB admirer, but his reaction here was over the top, and a touch graceless.

He got beaten, the end.


To me JB really lost his cool in Bahrain, his choosing to defend Perez with such vigour destroyed his tyres forcing him into an additional pit stop. Whilst it made for great on track action for the fans it was not the behaviour you would expect from the most experienced man on the grid. He didn’t seem to have the bigger picture, with regard to the race, in mind. Based on the season so far, I have the feeling Perez’s pace could have been a bit of a one off, but it would be interesting to see how / if JB could respond if Perez becomes the stronger driver.

The Mclaren guests at the weekend were extremely interesting. Sky gave interesting commentary of the events, but didn’t quite spell out the significance. The Slim family attended the race held in the country of major Mclaren shareholders. I still believe a Telmex deal would be bad for the team in the long run, but it does seem to be the way the team moving, although Ron Dennis was suspicious in his absence. On the subject of the future of Mclaren, if the Honda deal is due to come to fruition in the not too distant future are we to expect this will have a bearing on driver line up? JB has a great level of support in Japan, something I’m sure the manufacturer would want to capitalise on. It makes me think JB might not be retiring anytime soon, even if Sergio is faster, and Sergio’s seat could be secured through the slim’s even if JB is faster. Mclaren look like they could be tying themselves up in a few knots that could be difficult to undo.


I think ultimately the end result will please Mclaren: Perez has some confidence back and Button gets a reminder that he needs to keep pushing. Mclaren have shown over the years that they dont really mind who picks up the points and this proves it again. It’s nice to see team mates that are allowed to race! However, can you imagine the pressure Perez would be under now if he had broke his wing and punchered Button’s tyre?


But noooo, the pressure is now on Button.


Well, didn’t Whitmarsh say he’s too nice a chappy.

Yeah a bit aggressive but it does carry some traces of Lewis though.

And he finished way in front of Jenson, for those who support Jenson will have their piece of opinion which is fine. We all will speak for those we support, somehow.


Great Sergio!!

Button, you have a challenge to raise your game!

Hopefully both do well in the next races and if they have to race among them, better!!

Adrian Newey Jnr

James – at the beginning of the season, people were speculating that Checo would bring Carlos Slim Snr/Jnr’s money to the team. With those two being at Bahrain and being spotted in the Ferrari garage rather than the McLaren one, do you think Ferrari have highjacked Whitmarsh’s plans?


I wouldn’t read too much into that

The question is, do they plan to invest more themselves, do they plan to leverage relationships with other businesses for McLaren/Sauber etc

Looks to me like they were fact finding and I’d expect them to act on their findings and we’ll see what the outcome of that is.

F1 offers great global opportunuties for countries in emerging markets and Slims can see that


Its highly unlikely that JB would have risked a puncture or taking both cars out by deliberately slowing to create a problem for SP. The postings on this news item all seem to want to knock JB. Why? He is a great ambassador for McLaren and a team player. SP was a bit over the top but it was great fun to watch and of course it was pointed out that the richest man in Mexico was there to do a deal so why not let SP go for it. Martin Whitmarsh did not look the least bit put out when JB joined him in the Sky interview. It came across very well for both who seem to have a good working relationship. JB does whine a little but that’s just being a typical British male. We all do it as is clear from the above postings!!


However, I think you might find the anti-JB comments are not all from ‘British males’.


Point taken. Problem is that British people always want to knock their own countrymen/women if they have any success and its annoying. JB & LH are good for this country in sport.


What a coincidence, Button’s form fades as a future potential team and current sponsor for Button’s team mate makes a rare appearance at a F1 race

Quoted from

“How significant might Sergio Perez’s swashbuckling run to sixth place turn out to be for McLaren? The young Mexican finally put in a performance to justify the hype in Bahrain, a drive which included several closer than close encounters with teammate Button, on a weekend when the man who funded his way through the motorsport ranks made a rare appearance in the paddock. Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest men and the baron behind the Telmex empire, cut a relaxed pose in the paddock, accompanied by his high-flying son Carlos Slim Jr, but this is unlikely to have been simply a social call. Telmex, which currently backs the Sauber team, has been suggested as a replacement title partner for McLaren since the moment Vodafone confirmed its exit, while there are also lingering rumours about the return of the Mexican Grand Prix at some point in the not-so-distant future. The chase continues for Slim and his bagfuls of pesos.”


Bear in mind Perez weaved a lot during the race he also bumped wheels with jenson on another occassion.

I do believe Button was trying to teach him a lesson by forcing him wide and off track, but when Perez hit Button’s rear wheel it’s obvious Button is taking a defensive inside corner line and Perez the normal line and thus is able to get on the throttle earlier so nothing to do with Button brake testing him, it’s the law of physics.

Perez also bumped/tangled wheels with Grosjean but that has been forgotten due to the talk over his run in with Button.


I’m surprised Whitmarsh is so openly criticising his driver recently. I wonder if it has anything to do with Horner in Malaysia appearing to be weak, and Whitmarsh wanting to appear in control after a poor start for the team?

Probably not, but Mclaren have a real problem retaining talent at the moment so I’d suggest it unwise for Whitmarsh to be dictating to his drivers so much in public.


Exactly right, IMO.

The whole thing of the warning to Perez to “use his elbows & be more agressive”, plus the comments after the race from within the Team, should not be played out in public.

It’s a difficult thing to do when five microphones are stuck under your nose, seeking ‘scoop of the day’, however Button has done himself no favours by making the comments he did, as he should know it will be hyped-up, as on this thread.

The Team-talk should take place before the public discussion. But instant gratification insists its done differently.


What Button did wasn’t hyped. On Sky, he actually said he’d seen Whitmarsh squirming before the media and he’d turned up to help him, before putting his arm around Whitmarshes shoulder and then spouting reel after reel of his now famous words. It was that bad, that sad and that cringeworthy.


@Peter C

My bad.


What I mean is that when the Button/Perez controversy sits at the top of the headlines & receives millions of ‘hits’ on-line, then the thing is being ramped up out of proportion to its true news value…….then it is ‘hyped’.


I’ve always said that of Button

Bring Back Murray

Maybe he’s trying to deflect the media attention away from this own failings!


I’m not sure it was criticism, more like a little kick up the ****…and – as we saw – there’s nothing like a little kick up the **** for motivation 🙂


Button’s post-race reactions are confusing. I can’t tell if he’s being honest and sincere or if he’s just playing us.


he is media savvy. I think he quickly realised how he was coming across and changed his tone accordingly – the difference between his interview with BBC and Sky. Still, damage done Jenson, eh? Look above, mate.


James, off topic, but an under reported story line with respect to the tires creates some doubt as to whether these Pirelli tires suffer from some fundamental design flaw (other than their lack of longevity.) This weekend we had Hamilton’s left rear tire delaminate, breaking his supsension, transmission and gearbox resulting in him getting a penalty. Massa also suffered two blown tires during Sunday’s race which are unlike what I’m accoustomed to seeing. He thought one of the two blow outs was also delamination. There was a good slow motion replay on TV. Are these tires no only crap for racing, but also unsafe? When was the last time two or more tires delaminated on different teams on the same weekend? What are you hearing?


The only time anything remotely related to the tyre failures occurred in the past was in the 2005 United States Grand Prix. Then one of the Michellin’s on Ralph Schumackers car blew up while he was (much like Lewis and Massa) pretty much driving impeccably and quietly minding his own business.

As a result, Michelin withdrew their tyres from the race for safety reasons and only 3 Bridgstone shod teams took part in the race (Ferarri, Minardi and Jordan).

This is quite different to what happened with Pirelli in Bahrain (and at least one other race). Here’s a small list:

1. During free practise in Malaysia, Jenson Button braked hard, only for his tyre to actually burst. Horror!

2. Lewis Hamilton was traveling in a straight line when his tyre suddenly delaminated.

2. Filipe Massa had just exited a curve and was traveling in a straight line when his tyre suffered a sudden delamination.

There is possibly something wrong with the tyre structure as well as the compounds.


JA’s very defensive for the Pirelli, you can tell that from his past comments and posts that relates to the tyres, so you won’t get agreements from him.


As with most subjects half the readers like the current tyre strategy and the other half do not, and probably for the same reasons: it takes away from “pure” racing and brings an uncontrolled variable that mixes up places, same goes for DRS

Wether you or me or James like it is a matter of opinion, what I do not agree is the comments on this being Pirelli’s fault

Pirelli are delivering a product made to FIA’s request an are doing a very good job with a very difficult task

Their tyres are rubbish because they are designed to be so, not because of poor quality or engineering, we should complain with FIA, not Pirelli

I does seem after this race in close quarters and extreme heat and sand, they probably found their limit, and having 3 punctures is a bit too much and safety should be the priority

Mind you, it was 3 punctures from around 110-130? tyres used during the weekend, so it is not a bad percentage

Of course HAM and MAS will disagree

I like the added variable and the strategy it brings, if Red Bulls eat tyres more is because they have more downforce, which makes them faster on the twists and slower on the straights, they can play with these elements and achieve a good balance, like they did in Bahrain

Just for the record, I do think last year’s degradation was less extreme and worked better for the show


Not defensive, but keen on balanced arguments, as with every topic. I see the good and bad in this tyre situation

There’s a lot of negative bandwagon jumping with regards to this subject, which needs to be balanced out

However post Bahrain, I think it looks like things have gone too far and are likely to be reined in. Will be interesting to see how and by how much.


What do mean by the tyres being reined in?


More conservative


Glad to read that from you, James. Cheers!


James, I don’t agree with your last paragraph. Bahrain did not take it too far. You can still see that some drivers made 4 pit stops. Allowing drivers a little elbow in pushing gave us an awesome wheel to wheel racing. I think Bahrain should be taken as an example of how it should be – a fine balance between roting tyres and provding that little extra for drivers to push.


Seems deffensive to me.

A large number of us have been against the Pirelli philosophy from its inception so the accusation of ‘bandwagon jumping’ is unwarranted.

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