Video: Alonso blocks Hamilton in pits during qualifying

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes, Hungary, 2007 | Daimler ChryslerFernando Alonso resorted to desperate tactics to prevent team mate Lewis Hamilton from taking pole position at the Hungaroring.

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:

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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.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Hungary, 2007 | Daimler ChryslerThe 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

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40 comments on “Video: Alonso blocks Hamilton in pits during qualifying”

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  1. Yikes, yikes, yikes. Alonso will definitely have an internal punishment at McLaren, perhaps having to give way to Hamilton at Turn 1.

    As for an FIA penalty, I’m not so sure. Doesn’t McLaren have to file a protest for the FIA to investigate? If they do, Alonso will get no penalty, for sure. But if the FIA doesn’t need a filed protest, Alonso may get a pretty harsh penalty.

    Again, yikes.

  2. I used to admire Alonso and was pleased he had joined McLaren. Now I am not too sure.

    He has not taken the fact that Lewis has started so well and in most cases has had the measure of him. Today’s conduct will not endear him to the British Public and I can see headlines in the gutter press tomorrow along the lines of the Winker headlines folowing Ronaldo’s success at getting Wayne Rooney sent off.

    I’m all for competition, mind games and taking the racing line. Once you cross into dirty and cheap tactics, it signals a desperate man and hopefully the end of his tenure at McLaren at the end of the year for not demonstrating he can be a team player.

  3. I don’t think there is any FIA rule against it, unlike if they were on track.
    If it was deliberate then McLaren won’t be happy about it, but Alonso says he left when he was told to.

  4. What I don’t get is Alonso doesn’t need to resort to such measures… atleast not with 7 races remaining! The guy won 2 championships patiently… Frankly I hope for Alonso, Lewis and the sake of rest of Mc Laren it was just a mistimed stop.

  5. Why you are guy’s surprised about Alonso’s attitude? Have you already forgotten when he used to loose races against Schumacher (last year)? He used to cry like a baby. What about when he wins, oh well, that’s another story, he becomes close to arrogant. Remember his un-sporty attitude against Massa at his last race ?

  6. If anything, we now have an established hero-villain thing going for the 2007 championship: Lewis Hamilton, the British hero, the supposed hero, a young David who wants to prove a point, against the Goliath, Fernando Alonso, the (not-so) mustached villain who wants to keep a grip on his F1 championship reign.

    Sure, it’s exaggerated, but that’s how many F1 fans will see it (and how the British press will portray it).

  7. I can’t see them switching places on the first lap to be honest. If they did, it would be an easy call for Ferrari to claim team orders and it would significantly increase the exposure on the team’s problems. I expect that is the last thing Ron wants.

  8. Alonso knew exactly what he was doing he is a cheat.

    In my opinion he should be banned from the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    Hats of to Lewis he was very well mannered and calm dealing with the robbery, I would have personally smacked alonso.

  9. If Macca do want to switch places then the easiest thing, would be for Alonso to have a “wheel nut problem” during one of his stops.

    Even if it was not deliberate, Alonso didn’t leave the pits when the team told him to, consequently preventing his teammate from completing a second lap.

    As a team boss you would not be happy regardless.

  10. Forget all the stuff about mis-timed pit stops. Alonso knew exactly what he was doing. He timed it to perfection. I hope the FIA can punish him without needing a protest from McLaren, but I doubt it. Ron Dennis was obviously furious….maybe he will order Alonso to give way to Hamilton at turn 1, or even arrange for Hamilton to pass during the first pit stop. As a fan of McLaren and both these drivers, I have been sickened by Alonso’s actions today.

  11. Alonso needs to grow up and learn like massa told him but on is display at Hungagoring today he really sunk to the murky depths and in my opinion can only tarnish sport and F1 and should be punished by Mclaren,i have read his statement regarding going when told but the lollipop man had cleared him ages. If i watch tomorrow i shall hope he fails to finish.

  12. Fire his ass. The fact that Lewis outclassed him all season is his own doing, not the teams. And by the way, congratulations to Lewis for keeping his composure in the press conference. If that was me I would be wolloping Alonso with the mic, the orange juice decanter and whatever else within reach. Fire his ass.

  13. Well the FIA are investigating anyway…

  14. Before today I was beginning to doubt whether Alonso knew exactly how to deal with his precocious teammate. His actions at his final pit stop leave me more reassured – especially the rumours that his personal trainer was involved which make it premeditated. Today to me he demonstrated that he is not just prepared to be a bit-part-player in the Lewis Hamilton story.

    Alonso must realise that the status quo cannot continue. He needs to remove Hamilton from his comfort-zone. The job that Hamilton has done this season is clear for everyone to see. What Fernando must hope is that he cannot continue to perform to this level under pressure.

    Even if the FIA chooses to penalise the Spaniard it will not be the end of the world to him. Has he realised that starting a war within his own team, might just be the way to put pressure on Hamilton? Will the Brit perform in the same ultra-cool manner that has served him so well thus far?

    If Alonso knows that Hamilton is at least as quick as him, it is surely worth the gamble.

    For me the most impressive thing for me today was how Alonso dealt with the situation on his pole lap. He knew what he had done, and yet still got his head in the right place to deliver the goods. Had he not done, he would have looked stupid. That is dealing with pressure.

  15. So f1 punter you condone deliberate cheating?

  16. No. Punish him if he is proved to have done it.

    Alonso knows the penalty framework and I am sure it was a calculated gamble. If it turns the screw on Hamilton I am sure he will feel it was worthwhile.

  17. Funny way to turn the screw. And Hamilton dealt with it so well, I think only Alonso will feel any pressure from the incident.

  18. Alonso do it rigth.Hamilton has the better pieces in his car the mc-laren team only wants hamilton win

  19. I know what you are saying Clive, but I am not sure we have seen Hamilton’s full reaction to it yet. Alonso must provoke Lewis into fighting fire with fire – stop him concentrating on the things that have served him so well.

  20. This is what I think.

    First of all a lot or controversial about extra lap in qualifying has taken place between both drivers, as I’ve read in lots of blogs. Alonso feels he hasn’t been on equal conditions since Silverstone, when he had to use the extra lap and McLaren said that because of the gear failure in France it was again for Hamilton.
    Next, what about the long minute and a half he has been stopped by the team in Alonso’s first stop? And next came the reaction of undoubtely stopping Hamilton.
    This is my theory: Alonso had the extra lap turn but with soft tyres he was beeing slower than Hamilton. So the team thinks ok, let’s play Hamilton’s card, so they stop Alonso in his first pitstop so the extra lap of Alonso wouldn’t be useful. Alonso is in pit near 1:30 minute, and traffic is no excuse as in TV you can see BMW pilot entering the pits, changing tyres and returning to track while Alonso is stopped. Then Alonso comes out, makes his lap and enter again for new tyres, and surprise, Hamilton is behind. So he feels it’s time for vengeance. And the rest was seen for us all.
    Alonso wasn’t too much legal, but what about his team? Finally he did his fast lap in equal conditions as Hamilton….. and he was faster….

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