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Whitmarsh unhappy with stewards

NEWS STORY
28/03/2011

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has expressed his frustration at the decision to hand Jenson Button a drive-through penalty that effectively ended his chances of battling for a podium position.

Having lost out to Felipe Massa at the start of the race, the McLaren driver was involved in a highly enjoyable scrap with the Brazilian for several laps. Though clearly faster than the Ferrari, the Englishman was unable to find a way past until, as the pair went side by side into Turn 12 on the eleventh lap, the Englishman, now under pressure from a rapidly closing Fernando Alonso, used the escape road emerging ahead of Massa.

Before Button could hand the place back to Massa - even though he told his team over the radio that the Ferrari driver had "forced" him off track and therefore had no choice but to take use the escape road in order to avoid an accident - the Brazilian pitted. Subsequently the McLaren driver was handed a drive through.

Whitmarsh is angry at the stewards - under the guidance of race director Charlie Whiting - failure to communicate with the team before meting out the penalty.

"I feel a bit harshly treated because as the incident happened we asked race control for their advice," he told reporters, "what we should do, they explained they would come back to us and they didn't.

"The next thing we knew it had gone to the stewards," he continued, "Massa had stopped and we were unable to do anything about it. When they say 'We'll get back to you', you expect, to be honest, that they'll get back to you. You don't expect to read it on page three, three or four minutes later."

While the general consensus is that Button was in the wrong and that he would have been best served by simply holding station knowing that his car was faster, the Englishman remains adamant.

"I was in front before I entered the corner and then I didn't know what to do," he admitted. "The team said 'Stay where you are, we'll see what the stewards say', but as soon as Ferrari saw that happen they pitted Massa and as soon as that happens you get a drive-through.

"I don't know if they pitted Massa deliberately so I would get a drive through. Fair enough if they did, that's the way it is. Maybe it was done on purpose, maybe not. I'm disappointed not to pick up more points when the car is as good as it is."

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