Sergio Perez admits his battle with McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was 'too much'
But Mexican youngster delighted with sixth-placed finish
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 22/04/13 9:41am
It's been quite the seven days for Perez.
The under-pressure Mexican was ordered not only to raise his game after a lacklustre outing in Shanghai but also to toughen up on track with team boss Martin Whitmarsh expressly criticising his new driver for being "too generous".
But Perez certainly couldn't have been accused of being timid on Sunday, however, as he tangled with Button and then outmuscled both Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber in the closing stages to secure sixth position.
"You have to listen to the boss!" exclaimed Perez to Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle as he reflected on his best performance for McLaren to date and his first defeat of his senior team-mate.
But it was the manner of that defeat which had tongues wagging in the Bahrain paddock after Perez banged wheels with Button and left the aggrieved Briton complaining he had been too robust.
"It was perhaps a bit too much between myself and Jenson," acknowledged Perez. "Generally it was too much. We touched and I lost a front end-plate and some downforce and it was lucky I didn't puncture his tyre."
But could Button have simply avoided the confrontation by ceding position to the faster McLaren as the Englishman struggled for grip after experiencing sharper tyre-wear than the sister MP4-28?
"It was difficult," mused Perez. "I agree I was faster but Jenson was fighting for his race and we were so close on strategy that it was important to make it count and he fought very hard. But probably we lost a little bit too much time together."
In the furore over his clash with Button, it was easy to lose sight of how impressive Perez had been as he strong-armed his McLaren to fifth. With the MP4-28 scheduled to be treated to a makeover in Barcelona, the youngster is hopeful that his year is only in the first flourishes of recovery.
"It has been a difficult season so far with the car always changing between Friday and Saturday," he reflected. "But I think this was a turning point for our season and this was the start of our season."