LONDON (Reuters) - McLaren say they are ‘fully behind’ Sergio Perez even if the Mexican’s aggressive driving style has angered some of his Formula One rivals this season.
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, an ex-McLaren driver himself, called Perez an idiot and suggested the youngster needed a punch in the face after a collision between the two at last month’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Perez’s team mate Jenson Button spoke of dangerous and ‘dirty’ driving that the 2009 world champion said could have ended the race for both of them after they banged wheels at the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael told reporters on Wednesday, however, that the team were happy with the 23-year-old’s behavior.
“Ultimately he’s a racing driver and he’s just racing. The moves that he did (in Monaco) are all moves that have been done by all of those other drivers at some point in their careers,” said the Australian.
“It was obviously hard racing, but that’s what Formula One is meant to be about.
“He’s a talented driver and the way that he’s racing at the moment, McLaren support what he’s doing,” continued Michael. “We’re fully behind Checo as long as he keeps developing.”
Michael said Perez had gone through a transition in recent races, showed good technical insight and knew what he wanted from his engineers.
Perez will be starting his seventh race for McLaren in Canada this weekend after moving from Sauber at the end of last year as replacement for departed 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton, now with Mercedes.
The Mexican has scored points three times this season, with sixth place in Bahrain his best so far for a team struggling to improve their car.
“Jenson is a world champion and a hard guy to match and Sergio is doing pretty well against him,” said Michael.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John Mehaffey