McLaren's Jenson Button should stop complaining - John Watson

 

Jenson Button needs to stop complaining and get used to McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez racing him hard, according to former F1 driver John Watson.

Button accused Perez of driving dangerously after they clashed several times in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

But Watson told BBC Sport: "If Perez gives Button a difficult time, it's up to Button to come to terms with it.

Button v Perez in 2013

  • Australia - Button 9th, Perez 11th
  • Malaysia - Button DNF, Perez 9th
  • China - Button 5th, Perez 11th
  • Bahrain - Button 10th, Perez 6th

"It's a fact of life. He can't expect [team boss] Martin Whitmarsh to tell Perez to back off."

He added: "If your kid team-mate is pushing you hard, it's not nice, but it's part of the game. You have to respond by getting in and doing the best job."

Perez, 23, and Button, 33, were fighting over fifth place when the Mexican first tapped the back of his team-mate, breaking off part of his front wing.

Button then accused Perez, who joined the team from Sauber for this season, of moving across his line on the straight and "wheel-banging at 300kph".

Perez eventually went on to finish sixth - his best finish of the season - after a series of bold overtaking moves, while his team-mate dropped to 10th because of high tyre degradation.

Sergio Perez and Jenson Button

Button and Perez go head-to-head before the Chinese GP

His performance came after Whitmarsh had told him to "toughen up" and "use his elbows".

Watson, who raced for McLaren between 1979 and 1983, said the pair's battle in Bahrain was "verging on the ridiculous" but that "this kind of thing happens when you put an experienced driver alongside a young pretender.

"When you've got a kid or young pup like Perez up against Button, who is the elder statesman of F1 these days, and has gone past all the white knuckle, wheel-to-wheel style of racing, what frequently happens is that it ends up hurting both of them," added Watson, a five-time F1 race winner.

"All a team boss can do is remind them that they are driving for the team, not themselves, so they must not take each other off. They managed not to do that, but not for the want of trying.

"Someone like Perez is fast, fiery and keen to lay down his own scent trail, like animals in the jungle, to establish a pecking order in team.

"He is desperate to show what he can do, especially as he has not done an awful lot in the opening three races.

Career statistics

Jenson Button made his F1 debut in 2000 and has entered 234 races, in contrast to Sergio Perez 's 42. Button has one world title and 15 race wins. Perez, who made his debut in 2010, has no wins, with a best finish of second.

"Button is very experienced and the number one driver in that team, even though McLaren say there is no number one and number two.

"But because he is in that position, he has a target on his back and Perez will think that if he beats him, he'll be in the pound seat at McLaren.

"It's the law of the jungle, laying your scent around. That's what every driver is trying to do - they want to lead the team."

Button lies 10th in the drivers' standings with 13 points, 64 adrift of Red Bull's championship leader Sebastian Vettel but three ahead of Perez.