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Watson explains ‘facts of life’ to Button
26 April 2013
Jenson Button and Sergio Perez may have cleared the air following their wheel-banging battle at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but F1 veteran John Watson has warned the Briton to get used to being threatened by his upstart team-mate.
The McLaren pair found themselves going head-to-head in the second half of the race in Sakhir, scrapping over fifth place as Perez enjoyed his strongest day as a driver at the Woking squad. At one point, the Mexican ran into the back of his team-mate, caught out by Button's defensive line through turn four, and the pair later banged wheels as he attempted to pass the 2009 world champion.
Button's immediate reaction was to accuse Perez of being 'too aggressive', while the former Sauber stand-out later admitted that he may have been 'a little too hard', but Watson has warned the Briton to 'put up or shut up' as he can't see Perez playing a subservient role should the situation arise again.
"If Perez gives Button a difficult time, it's up to Button to come to terms with it,” the Irishman told BBC Sport, "It's a fact of life. He can't expect Martin Whitmarsh to tell Perez to back off.
"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."
While Perez eventually secured his best finish of the season in sixth spot, Button had to make do with tenth after needing a fourth pit-stop to replace worn out tyres, although he still holds the upper hand in the standings, albeit by one place and three points.
Watson fears that the ten-year age gap between the two drivers may have played a part in Button's complaints, suggesting that, at 33, the Briton may have 'gone past all the white knuckle, wheel-to-wheel style of racing'.
"When you've got a kid, or young pup, like Perez up against Button, who is the elder statesman of F1 these days, what frequently happens is that it ends up hurting both of them," the former McLaren driver warned.
"[Perez] is desperate to show what he can do, especially as he has not done an awful lot in the opening three races. 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.
"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.”