McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has warned Jenson Button not to be too cautious in the Brazilian Grand Prix as the Briton looks to secure his maiden F1 title.
Button could secure the crown with a podium finish at Interlagos, with Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel both needing to take big points out of the Brawn GP man to retain realistic hopes of stealing the crown.
However, speaking following Friday practice, Whitmarsh warned Button not to take things too easy following the drama his own team faced in Brazil last season.
Then, McLaren opted to play it safe with Lewis Hamilton in its bid to secure the drivers' crown but almost missed out in a dramatic finale where the Briton only secured the place he needed exiting the final corner of the race.
“I think it's different for everyone but here, last year, we took a relatively defensive strategy and it turned into a very difficult race for us, for all of us,” he said. “I think it's a balance. I think that's what racing drivers are generally pretty good at, assessing the risk benefit, probably better than most humans. I think that he doesn't have to go all out and win but if you get too defensive, then I think it can hamper your natural flair and flow.
“For Lewis last year, the team had made some mistakes in the previous year. I think we went flat out when we didn't need to and Lewis was new at that time. We should have guided him better and so after what happened in 2007, I think there was an enormous amount of pressure, probably a little more so than even with Jenson.
“But I think the right thing is that they probably can't be too defensive, it's very, very competitive in Formula One now. He needs some points and I think if he just does the job normally with the car that he has, with the points' advantage that he has, he ought to win the championship and he ought to be able to win it here, but anything can happen. We will see. Undeniably there is a lot of pressure on him but he shouldn't be too cautious.”
Felipe Massa, who lost out to Hamilton last season despite winning his home event, agreed that Button needed to push and not risk finishing outside the points.
“On Jenson's side, he just needs to try his best, for sure, not be banging wheels with other cars, that's the most important thing, not to be too aggressive in terms of overtaking,” he said. “But he needs to push, otherwise people will catch him and try to overtake and then he's at risk of finishing outside or whatever.
“He needs to push, but needs to be careful when it comes to fighting.”