Under-fire Sergio Perez ordered to 'toughen up' by McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh
Mexican also criticised by Kimi Raikkonen following crash
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 15/04/13 1:50pm
The signs were apparent from Friday that Perez faced a difficult weekend
Sergio Perez has been ordered to "toughen up" by team boss Martin Whitmarsh amid mounting criticism of the new McLaren recruit.
Perez struggled on all three days of the Chinese GP event, crashing out in practice on Friday as he returned to the pits, losing out for a third successive occasion in qualifying to Jenson Button on Saturday, and then failing to trouble the scorers on race day after colliding with Kimi Raikkonen.
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Damned if he did and damned if he didn't, Perez was afterwards rebuked by Whitmarsh for being too polite even though the collision with Raikkonen prompted the unusually-animated Finn to shout into his radio: "What the hell is he doing?".
Nonetheless, Whitmarsh remains adamant that Perez will need to be more robust on the track if he is to successfully fill the seat vacated by Lewis Hamilton.
"I think he's been very polite so far this year," Whitmarsh told The Guardian. "He needs to toughen up. He's been generous in allowing people past him.
"He's still a very young guy in a big team with lots of expectations so you're under a lot more scrutiny and it's tougher.
"And he's got a team-mate [Button] who's doing a great job, so there's some pressure there, and this won't go down as his best weekend, of that I'm sure."
In contrast to his struggling team-mate, who has so far scored a paltry two points, Button once again impressed as he hustled his under-performing MP4-28 into fifth place. Yet despite that measure of relief, nobody is under any illusions at McLaren that their current level of performance is acceptable with the difficult birth of the MP4-28 a critical mitigating factor in Perez's travails.
"We have not given him a great car so far," acknowledged Whitmarsh. "We as a team have got to step up and support him."