McLaren's Sergio Perez drove dangerously says Jenson Button

 

Jenson Button accused McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez of driving dangerously during Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Button said Perez, nicknamed 'Checo', needed to "calm down" following their on-track battle, during which they clashed several times.

"I'm not used to driving down a straight and your team-mate wiggling his wheels at you and banging wheels at 300kph," said ex-world champion Button.

Analysis

It was a strong weekend for Perez, but I can understand why Button was upset. He would have expected that kind of wheel-to-wheel racing from Hamilton and perhaps he was caught out a little bit by Perez finding form and did not expect that level of pressure.

"That's things you do in karting but grow out of. Not the case with Checo."

The two drivers were disputing fifth place at the time, with Perez eventually finishing sixth as Button dropped back to 10th because of high tyre degradation.

Button complained to the team about the 23-year-old Perez during the race.

In one radio communication, the Briton said: "He's just hit me up the back. Calm him down."

Button also accused his Mexican team-mate of moving across his line on the straight and "wheel-banging".

After the race, Button added: "I was very vocal on the radio - emotions were running high - but I would say the same thing again."

Bahrain GP: McLaren's Jenson Button and Sergio Perez battle on-track

He said it had been a "fun race, lots of good fighting, most of it clean", but felt Perez had over-stepped the mark.

"Banging wheels at 300kph isn't something we do in Formula 1 normally, so it's a new thing for me," added Button. "Maybe this is the way we go racing now, I don't know. But it's not the way I want to go racing.

"We'll have to have a little chat I think because I don't like banging wheels at 300kph. That's dangerous."

On Perez's sixth-place finish, Button said: "The good thing is he got some good points for the team, but soon something serious will happen.

"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."

Analysis

What happened yesterday was really inexcusable. Perez was driving too robustly and I thought Button was amazingly tolerant in his reaction. The fact is Perez has gone up from Sauber to McLaren and at McLaren nothing less than a win will do. He has had a very bad season so far and he has enormous pressure on him.

A lap after Perez had hit Button up the back, the Englishman forced him off the track at the exit of Turn Four by taking the racing line when Perez was trying to pass him around the outside.

Perez admitted that banging wheels was "a bit too much" but felt Button had been just as "risky".

Perez added: "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."

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh decided not to intervene at the time but admitted after the race that he felt Perez had gone too far on at least one occasion, when Perez hit the back of Button's car at Turn Four on lap 30.

"Rule number one, don't hit your team-mate," Whitmarsh said. "That could have been a puncture for Jenson and taken his own front wing off.

Button and Perez go head-to-head before the Chinese GP

"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 told him what I thought about hitting his team-mate, but we'll be calm and go through the other stuff."

Whitmarsh spoke to Perez after a difficult race in China last weekend and said he needed to be tougher on the track.

"People have been saying he hasn't had the spark this year," said Whitmarsh. "Well, he definitely had the spark today.

"He has to learn and perhaps calm down a little bit, but it is that passion that got him past a few more drivers later in the race, so you don't want to extinguish that spark."

Whitmarsh took Button aside in the paddock after the race to try to take some of the heat out of the situation.

The McLaren team principal said: "Jenson doesn't appreciate it, but the great thing about Jenson is he's a grown-up. He'll get over it."