Martin Whitmarsh welcomed Sergio Perez attacking Jenson Button in Bahrain but "did not approve" of him hitting his team-mate.
While other teams have proven in recent weeks that they won't shy away from issuing team orders, McLaren have always insisted that they won't run their team that way. And that was evident in Bahrain.
Perez and Button went at it tooth-and-nail several times during the 57-lap grand prix which resulted in the Mexican hitting the Brit and the Brit pushing the Mexican wide.
The duo, though, managed to avoid disaster and made it to the chequered flag with Perez in sixth place and Button tenth.
"There was a lot of noise in my ear telling me to calm them down. But I did not issue a team order to them," Whitmarsh told the Guardian. "That is not the way we go racing.
"I was happy with the way Checo raced - it was competitive, and that is healthy for the team.
"The one thing I did not approve of was hitting your team-mate. He overstepped the mark. I gave my view on that afterwards."
Perez's robust racing came in the wake of Whitmarsh's comments that the 23-year-old needed to "toughen up" and use his "elbows."
And Whitmarsh stands by that claim.
"He is young and still learning. But I would prefer to have to pull a racer back rather than have to push them forward," said the team boss.
"Jenson is upset but he's a grown-up. If he'd been beaten by his team-mate and been happy I would have been concerned."
"During that racing phase they both got hurt. They were in deadly combat. It was a challenge for both of them. It could have been worse.
"As I pointed out to Checo, he could have punctured his team-mates' tyre and he could have taken his own front wing off. So it's not the smartest thing to do in a race."