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Wednesday 21 September 2016

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McLaren duo's controversial Turkey GP battle occurred due to 'wrong opinion' on radio

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh claims that the controversial battle between his drivers in Turkey, which led to a muted post-race celebration, was the result of a "wrong opinion" given to Lewis Hamilton by chief engineer Phil Prew.

McLaren duo battled for Turkey GP lead due to a 'wrong opinion' voiced over radio
Face off: The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (left) battle for the lead at the Turkish Grand Prix, but it was Hamilton who emerged victorious Photo: EPA

Hamilton was told that Button would not overtake him after the pair had profited from a collision between Red Bull's drivers to lead the field in Istanbul.

Although team orders are banned in Formula One if they "interfere with competition", in an official race edit of the Turkish Grand Prix, broadcast on formula1.com, Hamilton can be heard asking his team: "If I back off, is Jenson going to pass me or not?" McLaren's answer was: "No, Lewis. No."

Shortly afterwards, Button profited when Hamilton went very slow through Turn Eight and passed him into Turn 12. Hamilton retook the lead at the end of the start-finish straight although the two brushed wheels momentarily.

They went on to take a one-two although the body language between the two at the finish was frosty.

Whitmarsh said: "Shortly after he was told that Jenson wouldn't overtake him, Jenson did overtake him. Phil gave an opinion to Lewis and as it turned out his opinion was wrong.

"The race was a bit quicker than expected. So we were consuming more fuel than we needed to. So we had to find ways to save fuel.

"Inevitably there's a dilemma as you get to the end of a race about how hard you can race. I think we've had it amply demonstrated that a team and its drivers can get that wrong, but there is no doubt that both of our racing drivers want to win and they were being told to look after fuel.

"But as a consequence of that Phil Prew had the opinion that Jenson wouldn't overtake and clearly that was probably a wrong one."

Whitmarsh added that he was confident McLaren could continue their good form in Canada this weekend, with the high-speed Gilles Villeneuve circuit well suited to their car.

He said: "Red Bull are strong in high speed corners, but the next two grands prix (Montreal and Valencia) don't feature those so we hope to be strong there. But while we're developing our car you never know what Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes will turn up with."

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