If the relationship between the McLaren drivers was strained before it looks like degenerating into a bitterly fought battle now.
It remains to be seen whether any disciplinary action might be taken. If Alonso is deemed to have deliberately impeded another driver he may be stripped of his qualifying times.
The Hungarian Grand Prix stewards are investigating the incident.
Here’s a video of the controversial moment:
Alonso’s move marks a new low in relations between himself and Hamilton and the wider McLaren team.
There have been rumours throughout the season of Alonso’s unhappiness. During the United States Grand Prix, after a failed overtaking attempt on Hamilton, Alonso drove up to the pit wall and gesticulated to make his unhappiness clear.
Several reports have appeared in the Spanish press claiming that Alonso wants more preferential treatment over Hamilton.
Today’s incident might have been triggered by an earlier problem Alonso had while taking on new tyres. The team held him stationary for a long time, presumably to give him a more favourable track position.
But the delay was lengthened when the team realised the cord from a wheel blanket was tangled up around the front-right wheel. Perhaps Alonso felt that as this cost him a lap’s worth of fuel, Hamilton ‘deserved’ a similar inconvenience.
He might not have done it at all were not McLaren apparently at a great advantage this weekend. Kimi Raikkonen was beaten to third by Nick Heidfeld, and Felipe Massa will start 14th after technical problems.
The Hungaroring seems to bring out the worst in Alonso (as well as the best). It was here last year that he was penalised for unduly slowing Robert Doornbos during practice.
Alonso was penalised for delaying Felipe Massa in qualifying for last year’s Italian Grand Prix. The decision was widely criticised, as the Ferrari driver was over 90m behind Alonso at all times.
He later told the press “I no longer consider F1 a sport.” But his move today was anything but sporting. It’s comparable to Michael Schumacher’s stunt at Monaco last year – and may yet carry a similar penalty.
It’s not the first time McLaren have had to deal with an irate driver after a pit stop delay caused by the other.
At last year’s Australian Grand Prix Juan Pablo Montoya was left fuming after the team left him waiting behind team mate Kimi Raikkonen as they changed the Finn’s front wing during a safety car period. Montoya left the team halfway through the year.
What will the consequences be for Alonso? If the stewards don’t have anything to say about it, Ron Dennis surely will. I expect the Spaniard’s ears are ringing even as I write this.
Will Alonso leave McLaren? Might he even quit before the end of the season? Will they suspend him and put Pedro de la Rosa in the car?
What if Alonso has broken the terms of his McLaren contract? If he has, the drivers’ market for 2008 could come to life.
Update: The FIA is investigating the incident and has called upon McLaren’s Ron Dennis to provide information and hand over the team’s radio transmissions.
When Schumacher was adjudged to have block the circuit during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix last year, he had all his qualifying times deleted and had to start from last on the grid. When Alonso was found have have impeded Felipe Massa in Italian Grand Prix qualifying last year, he lost his times from the third session and had to start tenth.
Update 2: Alonso has claimed that Hamilton also failed to obey an order from McLaren – to let Alonso through at the start of the qualifying session: “They told Hamilton what to do and he didn’t listen. That was the only problem the team had. Ron’s anger was because [Hamilton] didn’t accept an order that the team repeated several times over the first lap.
Therefore, the team did all they had to do, and tried to give me that extra lap, but for those reasons it wasn’t possible. I’ve been asked about Ron throwing his headphones, about how he went after Fabrizio [Alonso’s physiotherapist], or whatever. I have nothing against him. I was going to have an extra lap of fuel, and I didn’t have it, but in the end I got pole.”
All photos: Daimler Chrysler