FORMER world champion Jenson Button and McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez have held clear-the-air talks after the pair’s heated on-track battle at Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix threatened to boil over, the team has confirmed.
Button reacted angrily to being shunted by Perez on lap 30 of the race as the battle for fifth position intensified and slammed the 23-year-old, known as Checo, for what he perceived to be dangerous driving and a style more akin to “karting”.
Perez finished sixth in the fourth race of the season, while Button had to settle for 10th place after high tyre degradation saw him slip down the standings.
But, after a meeting with McLaren chiefs, the drivers are said to have resolved their differences.
“Both Jenson and Checo had an opportunity to express their views to us and then we gave them the team’s position,” said sporting director Sam Michael.
“That position is quite simple; McLaren allows both its drivers to race hard and fair and in return its drivers must respect that trust and must not let the team down.
“It was a good discussion and both Jenson and Checo were keen not only to talk the issues through but also to part on good terms. Checo was understandably pleased with his performance, but he appreciates that at times it was too close to the mark. Likewise, Jenson acknowledges that during the race he reacted harshly to some of the occurrences.”
Button currently lies 10th in the championship standings with 13 points, one place above Perez, but 64 points behind current leader and three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
The McLaren drivers are set to renew their rivalry at the Spanish Grand Prix on 12 May, where the team insist their philosophy of encouraging competition will remain unchanged.
“That’s the way McLaren goes motor racing,” added Michael. “Some of the most exciting moments of modern-era Grand Prix racing were provided by McLaren team-mates Ayrton [Senna] and Alain [Prost] fighting each other on track in the late 1980s and Ron [Dennis] didn’t impose team orders on them in those days either.”
This is not the first incident of fractions between team-mates in Formula One this season.
Red Bull’s Vettel ignored team orders not to pass Mark Webber during the Malaysian Grand Prix, before going on to win.
And Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil blamed each other for a collision on the first lap of the Chinese Grand Prix.