Team Button and Team Perez reach a truce and make peace for now

Jenson Button with Sergio Perez in Bahrain

Jenson Button with Sergio Perez in Bahrain

Jenson Button could be thankful at least that McLaren allowed their drivers to race each other in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, even as he accused team mate Sergio Perez of dangerous and dirty driving.

The 2009 world champion looked for positives after he and his Mexican team mate cleared the air at a hastily-arranged meeting with McLaren management after Sunday’s race.

“We have sat down and discussed it and hopefully we have all learnt from the race… it could have all ended in a very different way for both of us,” Button told reporters. “It’s great that we don’t have team orders and are allowed to fight,” he added.

“I think he will learn,” Button said of Perez. “I think it’s good being in a team like this that will be very open with comments and say what they think to the drivers, face-to-face. We’ve all done that, so that’s important.”

Sergio Perez versus Jenson Button

Sergio Perez versus Jenson Button was a Bahrain GP highlight

Perez and Button raced nose-to-tail and wheel-to-wheel, with the Mexican bumping the rear of the Briton’s car in one heartstopping moment for the McLaren pit wall, as he tried to find a way past.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he had come under considerable pressure from both sides of the garage – which he described as divided between ‘Team Button’ and ‘Team Perez’ – to intervene but had refused to do so.

“‘Team Button want to beat ‘Team Perez’. They’ll be saying ‘this is hurting us’ and that’s normal. We like that dynamic,” explained Whitmarsh. “Right down to the mechanics, they want their car to beat the other car. That’s how we work as a race team and it gives certain tensions in the system. But I think that’s the right way to do it.”

The memory of this year’s controversial Malaysian Grand Prix remains fresh, even if McLaren have always maintained that their drivers are free to race each other – within reason.

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez with Martin Whitmarsh

Jenson Button and Sergio Perez with Martin Whitmarsh

“I had a lot of noise in my ear from people suggesting I should stop them racing, we didn’t,” said Whitmarsh of Sunday’s incident. “I think it was the right thing in the long term for both drivers to know they are racing each other and be competitive,” he added.

“We’ve seen it a couple of times this year, and the driver behind is always going to believe he was quicker, he’s always going to be aggrieved. Those guys are out there fighting and you can’t suddenly decide halfway through a race ‘Oh, by the way, I didn’t mean it. don’t fight because it looks uncomfortable for me'”

Whitmarsh said he was unlikely to issue any such command any time soon, even if he had explained to Perez later that he had gone too far. The team boss also praised the 23-year-old for his fighting spirit, however, and the ‘spark’ he had shown.

  • Hawk

    that’s the McLaren spirit. very consistent for many years. let them race.

  • Grody

    No one has mentioned that Carlos Slim was in Bahrain last weekend, watching his “boy”. Don’t you think that Perez’s behaviour was related to that i.e. wanting to show his sponsor that he had “b*lls”????

  • Hooters

    Button was slowing up a faster team mate and ruined his tires for nothing other than to try to protect his fragile ego. He brake tested Perez and then tried to run him off the track. Button is the only driver who needed to learn something.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Perez already established himself as an equal right driver at Mclaren, which is a very important step. This is where Kovalainen already failed.

  • usman

    McLaren , A TRUE F1 TEAM

  • harry harris

    How come there are two teams under one roof ? No I don’t believe it. It just clashes among the two drivers…which I foresee a good sign to the team. They are allowed to race each other, no matter Button is senior than Perez …… no team orders.

  • IanMac

    Many years ago (1979), Mario Andretti described the wheel-banging final-laps battle between Gilles Villeneuve and Rene Arnoux as “2 young lions clawing each other.” With Jenson and Checo, we had 1 young lion clawing the older one. Kudos to McLaren for not interfering, letting the lions get on with what lions do.