McLaren insists it did not order Sergio Perez to ease off in his Spanish Grand Prix battle against Jenson Button in an attempt to avoid a repeat of their Bahrain GP clash.
Just one race after the pair clashed at Sakhir after an over-aggressive fight for positions, the prospect of another wheel-to-wheel dice was on the cards at Barcelona when Perez closed in on his teammate in the closing stages. However, a late radio message to the Mexican that told him to focus on conserving his tires meant he abandoned his chase of Button, and he finished two seconds behind at the checkered flag.
Some interpreted McLaren's intervention as a coded message to avoid the pair fighting, but team principal Martin Whitmarsh insisted that there were genuine concerns about tires.
"Checo himself said at the end his tires were finished," said Whitmarsh. "What we didn't want was him to be battling until he ran out of rubber. He very nearly did, as it turns out. So it was not tactical, it was practical."
"It was a fair fight but if you are asking, did we ask him to back off and not fight? No, not at all. We could see the tire wear energy and we were worried he was going to end up with no rubber at the end of the race, which he virtually did."
Whitmarsh said that a double points haul in Spain was a small bit of good news on an otherwise difficult weekend, but it was still not good enough for McLaren.
"We are fighters so we try to get more positions than we get in qualifying," he said. "We are not quick enough. We need to work harder and that is what we have got to do. Overall both drivers did a good job."
Perez took to Twitter on Monday to also deny that any team orders were put in place.
He wrote: "[I] just want to tell everyone the radio message I had was all about to save the tires. Never a team order, [I] can't wait for Monaco."