Bahrain GP: McLaren keen Perez keeps 'spark' after Button duels
|By Jonathan Noble and Matt Beer||Sunday, April 21st 2013, 17:39 GMT|
McLaren will ask Sergio Perez to slightly calm his style after his clashes with team-mate Jenson Button in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but not at the expense of the Mexican's "spark".
Button described Perez's driving as "too aggressive" following a lengthy dice in which the two McLarens made contact more than once. Perez felt Button had been equally culpable.
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh had urged Perez to toughen up in the wake of his disappointing first few races for McLaren, and declined to come down too hard on his driver.
"I think it was tough - Checo [Perez] is a young driver, he was robust," said Whitmarsh.
"What you don't do is hit your team-mate from behind and potentially give him a puncture and potentially knock your front wing off.
"People have been saying he hasn't had the spark this year but I think he definitely did today."
Whitmarsh believes Perez will take a big confidence boost from his Bahrain performance. He ultimately finished sixth, four places ahead of Button.
"Overall, it was a fantastic fighting result," said Whitmarsh.
"It was uncomfortable and cost us a bit as a team but he'll come out of it with confidence.
"He's a young driver, he's going to learn, perhaps calm down a little bit in some things but at the same time it's that passion that got him past a few more drivers later in the race.
"You don't want to extinguish the spark.
"We can focus on some of the things that weren't perfect today but we've got to say our car's not quick enough and he fought very, very hard for sixth place."
The team chief added that the events of Sakhir had not made him question McLaren's practice of letting its drivers race hard at all.
"Some of the driving was marginal between the two of them but that's what happens when you allow your drivers to race," said Whitmarsh.
"We allow our drivers to race; if you don't the guy behind has the conviction he was quicker, that he would have got by and that he was harmed by the decision.
"I had a lot of noise in my ear from people suggesting I should stop them racing.
"We didn't, and it can go horribly wrong, but I think on balance it was the right thing in the long-term for both drivers to know they are racing each other and be prepared to."