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GP Week : Issue 181
After widespread criticism of his first three races for McLaren, Sergio Perez beat teammate Jenson Button on track at Bahrain’s Sakhir Circuit on Sunday afternoon. But the Mexican racer was flamed by his teammate for what the 2009 world champion said was a drive befitting a karter, not a Formula One driver. “I was very vocal on the radio, emotions were running high, but I would say exactly the same again,” Button told Sky Sports after the race. “The racing was great out there. The only person that wasn't was Checo. He was too aggressive, I would say. At 300 kph, you don't expect your team-mate to come alongside you and bang wheels with you. It was a bit of a surprise, and I'm probably not the only one that feels like that.” “I was as aggressive as he was with me,” Perez retorted. “It was probably, too much. It's something we have to speak about.” With the two drivers banging wheels during the fight for fifth place that was eventually won by the Mexican, there were nervous faces on the McLaren pit wall. But after disappointing results at the first three races of the season, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh told his new signing that he needed to be more aggressive. It is unlikely that Whitmarsh had Button in mind as a potential target for the Mexican racer, but it can’t be denied that Checo was only following orders... “I think today was a little bit too hard; the fight between me and Jenson,” Perez acknowledged. “We touched a few times, but while you are there you are just fighting and you have adrenaline. You want to take the position from your team- mate but definitely I think it was a little bit too much. 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.” What Perez saw as a clean but hard fight, the vastly more experienced Button viewed as unnecessary aggression from a teammate. “I've raced with many teammates over the years and with quite an aggressive teammate in Lewis [Hamilton], but I'm not used to driving down the straight and then my teammate coming along and wiggling his wheels at me and banging wheels. I've had some tough fights in F1 but not quite as dirty as that. “That's something you do in karting and normally you grow out of it but that's obviously not the case with Checo. Soon something serious will happen, so he has to calm down. He's extremely quick and he did a great job today but some of it is unnecessary and an issue when you are doing those speeds.” Thanks in no small part to his unexpected battle with Perez, Button was forced into a four- stop strategy that hampered his chances to pressure for additional points in the close-fought closing stages of the race. “I pushed the tyres too hard trying to fend off my team-mate,” Button said. “The last stop was because I was having problems with the rear tyres. I don't know why but I couldn't look after the rear tyres as well as Checo. It was tricky and I had that for the whole race and was really struggling with that. It seems that when it is a temperature thing I'm not able to look after the tyres so well, so a tough race.” Perez: too much to prove, or just following orders? F1 >>> BAHRAIN 18 GPWEEK.com // 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: