25 August 2013
Belgian Grand Prix: Perez ‘a marked man’, claims Whitmarsh
Martin Whitmarsh reckons that, without a 'harsh' drive-thru' penalty, Sergio Perez could have made it two McLarens in the points at Spa-Francorchamps.
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh believes that Sergio Perez's reputation preceded him when it came to judging a move he pulled on Romain Grosjean at the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Mexican was handed a drive-thru' penalty for allegedly running Grosjean off the circuit, having passed the Frenchman's Lotus approaching Les Combes. The incident, on lap eight of the Spa race, came as Perez attempted to retake the racing line approaching the right-left sequence, the Mexican clearly believing that he was ahead of his rival.
Grosjean was heard complaining about the move, and Whitmarsh said that it was no surprise that Perez was then called to serve his punishment, which dropped him down the order, ultimately coming home eleventh after being caught by Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo in the closing stages.
"He's clearly going to be watched closely at the moment and he's got to be careful in these moments," Whitmarsh told Sky Sports F1, referring to notable incidents in Bahrain and Monaco, "I think it was a harsh decision but, if you've got a rap sheet, you've got to be squeaky-clean haven't you?
"It's tough when you're a young driver and you're coming in amongst that. Inevitably, the older drivers will gang up on you, they'll put you under pressure in the drivers' briefing and create an environment like that. That's the business. That's the sport."
Having been able to review the incident post-race, however, Perez admits that he can see where he may have been at fault.
“What happened with Romain was unfortunate,” he reflected, “I got ahead of him, and took the corner, but I now understand where the penalty came from, even if I'm naturally disappointed for myself and for the team. After the drive-thru', it was always going to be tricky to score any points.”
A likely contender to increase his points tally for the year prior to the incident, Perez admits that he will turn his attention to the final European round of the season in two weeks' time.
“My race started pretty well - I managed to make up a couple of positions at the start, and then a few more in the first ten laps,” he noted, “At that point, things were looking pretty good. I was happy with the balance of the car and we were on a good strategy.
“These things are always difficult, but the team spirit at McLaren is unbelievably strong and now, together, we simply have to move on. What we must now do is look ahead to Monza, and do our very best to make up for the points we missed out on here at Spa.”
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