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F1: Mclaren Blew It In Bahrain

In-team battles are certainly the main point of interest so far this season.

First we had Sebastian Vettel ignoring team orders and passing Mark Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix - payback for his Red Bull team mate's deliberate attempts to cost him the World Championship in the showdown in Brazil last season.

Then we had Mercedes demanding the Nico Rosberg hold station behind Lewis Hamilton in the same race, even though the German was substantially faster.

And in Bahrain we had Mclaren's drivers banging wheels and forcing each other off the circuit.

The latter was an epic fail on the part of the Mclaren team, who clearly failed to grasp the complexities of racing in F1 this year.

Pirelli have built tyres that wear quickly in order to promote better racing. New tyres significantly outperform old ones. The net result is that on varying strategies two drivers who are nominally as quick as each other will be significantly faster than each other at different points of their tyre lifecycle.

So it proved for Mclaren in Bahrain. And this is where they blew a possible podium place.

Sergio Perez on new tyres and going very quickly came up behind his team-mate Jensen Button on rather worn tyres. Instead of doing the sensible thing and allowing Perez through Button chose to fight for position. Instead of then telling Button to let Perez through Mclaren chose to allow them to race each other.

Button's defence was... robust. Perez responded in kind and the two battled and touched for a number of laps before Perez got through.

This battling on fragile tyres cost the team dearly.

Button dropped back to tenth place having damaged his tyres sufficiently to require an additional, unplanned stop. Perez missed out on fifth place by less than a second. He was sixteen seconds behind Grosjean who finished third and fourteen behind Di Resta's fourth place Force India.

Without the battle with Button and subsequent damage to his front wing
, Perez would have definitely been fifth and could certainly have been in the mix with Di Resta and Grosjean.

Mclaren as a team demonstrated poor racecraft this weekend. Clearing the air between the drivers is all well and good. But understanding how they could have managed both driver's races better is just as important.


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