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Perez's radio message was not a team order - Whitmarsh

ESPN Staff
May 13, 2013 « F1 no longer about racing - Mateschitz | Ferrari still has weakness - Domenicali »
Sergio Perez closed to within a second of Jenson Button at the end of the Spanish Grand Prix © Getty Images
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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh insists his team's radio call to Sergio Perez to preserve tyres towards the end of the Spanish Grand Prix was not a covert team order.

Perez closed in on team-mate Jenson Button towards the end of the race but was warned by his team to look after his tyres. Following the heated battle between the two in Bahrain, the radio message in Spain was interpreted as an order to hold position by some members of the media, but Whitmarsh said that was not the case.

"In truth, at the end of the race Checo [Perez]'s tyres were completely shot," he said. "We could see by the tyre wear that he was likely to run out of rubber and he very nearly did. He had flat-spotted his tyres at the end because the temperatures had gone off in chasing Button. He's entitled to chase and it was tight, but not quite as close combat as Bahrain.

"What we didn't want him to do was battle until he ran out of rubber. He very nearly did as it turned out, so the radio message was not tactical it was practical."

Whitmarsh said Perez was learning quickly at McLaren this year but that ultimately the team has not given him a quick enough car.

"He's come on in confidence. The last race [in Bahrain when he hit Button] wasn't all right but it was spirited. Qualifying in Spain was good and he's learning. We haven't given him a good enough car so I think he is doing a great job and I think he had another piece of learning today and a masterclass from Jenson of how to drive through on these delicate tyres."