Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Gloves now off in McLaren battle with Sergio Perez, says Jenson Button

Jenson Button knows he is going to face a tough fight if he is to get anywhere near winning the world championship this season
Jenson Button knows he is going to face a tough fight if he is to get anywhere near winning the world championship this season

Jenson Button has insisted the gloves are now off in his battle with Sergio Perez, but he is confident his McLaren team-mate will learn from the error of his ways on Sunday.

Button pulled no punches in his condemnation of Perez's driving style following the Bahrain Grand Prix, slating the Mexican as "dirty" and "dangerous".

It was the latest team feud to erupt in the Formula One paddock this season in the wake of the team orders furore that surrounded both Red Bull and Mercedes post-race in Malaysia last month.

Despite his disparaging remarks towards Perez, Button later stated "I cannot retract my comments" as he stuck to his belief the 23-year-old had overstepped the mark.

In hitting Button from behind at one stage, losing part of his front wing, and then later banging wheels with him, Perez's reputation has now certainly suffered in the eyes of the Briton.

At least Button feels Perez has the capacity to understand where the line needs to be drawn after talking the matter over with him.

"We have sat down and discussed it, and I think we have all learned from that race," Button told Press Association Sport..

"It is good he is in a team like this where people are very open with the comments and say what they think to the drivers face to face.

"We have all done that, so that's important, but then we have to be careful with being too aggressive too, because if that builds up it will not be good for the future.

"But overall I think Checo will learn from what happened."

Asked, though, whether the gloves were off with Perez, the 33-year-old replied: "Yeah, but I am not going to change my style of driving.

"I drive the way I think is the correct manner and the way you should to respect your fellow drivers."

Button twice voiced his anger towards Perez over the team radio, at one stage urging those on the pitwall to calm him down.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, sticking rigidly to his guns that his drivers are free to race, said nothing, despite being acutely aware what was taking place on track was a recipe for disaster.

"I had a lot of noise in my ear, people saying 'stop this, stop this, it's hurting us', suggesting I stop them racing," said Whitmarsh.

"I didn't, and I know it could have gone horribly wrong. On balance it was the right thing - in the long term - for both drivers to know they are racing each other and are competitive.

"If you do that the driver behind is always going to feel aggrieved, so I let it go because we allow our drivers to race.

"To have said to Checo 'don't fight', or to Jenson 'yield, let your team-mate by', I've not yet done it, and I don't think I'm likely to start doing it any time soon."

Button, who has made his distaste for team orders clear in the past, was fully appreciative of Whitmarsh's stance.

"It is great we have no team orders and are allowed to fight, we just have to respect that," said Button.

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