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”

  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….

  21. Sorry, Punter, but I have to disagree. From what I saw today, Hamilton is a star. The grin on his face in the press conference was real – he knows full well that Fernando’s done himself nothing but harm by his action. And, when it comes down to it, what the heck does it matter? They’re both on the front row and have a good chance of getting to the first corner in the lead.

    Let’s face it, Hamilton cannot lose this season – he’s a rookie and already done enough for us to believe him to be at least on a par with the reigning champion. He can afford to let Alonso have pole occasionally – Hamilton will do what he does best on the track and, if he wins, he’s the best thing since Fangio; if he comes second, hey, that’s brilliant for a rookie. He’s living the dream and there’s nothing Alonso can do to ruin it. ;)


  23. Ben Goldberg
    4th August 2007, 17:44

    Roger, that an interesting way of seeing it. Maybe the right way also, but when I was watching it live, I thought that they were holding Alonso the first time because he had so little fuel and they were trying to save some. Now that I think about it though, that would be stupid since it was obvious that McLaren could actually get pole this race without running light.

  24. uhmmm, one of the major spanish sports-news just reported Ron Dennis saying in a press conference that Hamilton was to blame beause he ignored up to six times the order to let Alonso pass by, so as to give him the chance to burn an extra lap of fuel.
    Making Alonso wait and block Hamilton from leaving the pit on time was the “penalty” the team (Dennis ??) decided to apply for Hamilton ignoring team orders.
    All this according to the spanish press

  25. No one will ever listen to a proper explanation, because you’ve all already made up your minds! No way could the Golden Boy Lewis actually have done anything wrong! It had to be all Alonso’s fault!

  26. Nice to read an objective comment like Roger’s despite the one-sided headline. Fact is that both drivers run their respective flying laps under the same fuel conditions and with the tyres of their choice. However, Hamilton did not feel that was good enough. Once again, he, supported by Mr. Dennis CBE, wanted to take advantage of the extra lap even if it was Alonso’s turn. Actually, Alonso’s go would have been in Nürburgring but the length of the German circuit precludes this possibility. By the way, Hamilton’s impressive success owes hugely to Alonso’s data. No problem with that, because they are team mates. However, Hamilton declared to press a few weeks ago that cars could be finetuned without the indications of an expert driver. I didn’t find his words particularly thoughtful nor representative of a team player like the one he claims to be. Regarding generic references to comments by the Spanish press it’d be better if the name of the source is mentioned. Don’t forget that Alonso has suffered many attacks by media in his home country and they can be less objective than British, for no good reason.

  27. It is one-sided, and as I said above, I could think of no reason why it was anything other than Alonso baulking Hamilton.

    But, new material has come to light and as I wrote in the post I’ve just linked to:

    If I am being too cynical, and Alonso hasn’t committed a ‘dirty trick’, then I take back the content of this post.

  28. “[Alonso] was being counted down by his engineer. He’s under the control of his engineer. He determined when he goes. That’s the sequence. And if you think that was a deliberate thing, then you can think what you want. I have given you exactly what happened.” So Mr Dennis said.

    Of course, that Alonso and Hamilton ran their flying laps under the same fuel conditions and this ended up with Alonso taking the pole did not please Mr Dennis at all. Why? Well, that’s another question (a very interesting one indeed). I just wonder what is wrong with the two pilots having the same opportunities. I wouldn’t like Hamilton to be treated like Barrichello at Ferrari, but I don’t think that a team should hire the services of a double world champion and then put him at a disadvantage. Does anybody really want Hamilton to win the championship thank to Mac Laren´s preferential treatment? That’s not competition and certainly it is not what formula 1 is about.

  29. I don’t see why the FIA needs to concern itself with this. Schumi’s parking at Monaco was blatantly obvious and on track, hindering everyone. This happened in the Mclaren pit and so didn’t affect any other team. This also wasn’t as obvious as the Schumi move, only the furious Ron Dennis at the pit wall made it appear so.

    As to someone claiming Hamilton outclassing Alonso this season I beg to differ. As talented as Lewis is I say he wouldn’t be as successful without Alonso’s work in developing and setting up the cars. Plus F1 cars are just too “easy” to drive with all this traction control stuff. ;)

    A thought; do you think Ron regrets hiring Alonso? Surely Hamilton is his favorite that he wants as his no.1 driver in the coming years and Alonso was an experienced driver to develop the cars, take home the wins and guide Lewis as he learnt his way in F1. Now with with Hamilton actually competing for the championship in his first year maybe Ron regrets not hiring some other experienced but more low profile driver?

  30. I don’t see the reason for th uproar. Ron Dennis made it clear what happened. In the post race interview Hamilton made it clear it was the team and not the individual. Pure mudslinging. They can take care of it in the race.

  31. I think the two pilots must have the same oportunities, but f1 is an english bussiness, and f1 masters (Ron Dennis included) wants to have an english f1 champion, to increase audience, merchandaising, and so on, in the US and Great Britain. For all, both MacLaren, Ecclestone and FIA give Hamilton more choices to Hamilton that to Alonso. Specially this year, because next year will not be traction control, and then Hamilton will pay his inexperience.

  32. I think I must be the only person who is disappointed that Alonso didn’t hold Hamilton on purpose!

    At the time, I thought it was an extremely clever thing to do in order to give himself the best possible shot at pole – remember at the time pole still belonged to Lewis and Alonso still had to go out and do the business.

    It brings back memories of Schumacher – and while I don’t agree with all he did, it takes a special kind of genius to think of these things in the heat of the moment.

    Whatever the reason for the qualifying palava, it should have been handled internally by McLaren without the stewards becoming involved – but I couldn’t see them sacking Alonso no matter what he did!

  33. This Hamilton guy is a flash in the pan – ask yourself this, what if nick heidfeld was driving instead of Hamilton? or what if sato or ralph schumacher were driving under the mclaren banner? would they be any less successful? I think we all know the answer to this question.

    Alonso is clearly the better driver, and should let Hamilton have his moment of glory, as thats all it will be i guarantee it.

  34. Hear hear Andy – Alonso will get those 7 points and more to show what a champ he is and Hamilton and his adoring fans will realise that they are the only ones who really do adore their spoilt ‘boy’ who dares to swear at the boss! Some bosss who can’t recognise what he’s doing to a wonderful champion – maybe Alonso should have stayed with Renault? He can drive any car fast enough!

  35. “Alonso isn’t speaking to me” says Hamilton – is it any wonder – and for goodness sake, why should Alonso, under a great deal of attack today, even bother with McLaren , Ron Dennis (who couldn’t manage 2 doughnuts in a paper bag – let alone 2 drivers) or Hamilton – he sounds whinging and childish.

  36. If I speak to my boss like hamiltom did, I’m fired. What if Alonso did? For sure Ron s reaction would have been different…
    Shame on McLaren! They say equal conditions for both drivers, I don’t belive so. British team, british pilot and british press; does anyone belive the chances will be the same for Alonso?

  37. It wasn’t that long ago when Mika Hakkinen was driving the number 1 car at McClaren, while David Coulthard was number 2.

    Let us also not forget that Alonso’s World titles would have significantly bumped up the fee McClaren are paying for his services, and that the purpose of McClaren hiring Alonso in the first place was for him to win the Drivers title, hence bring in the points for the constructors title.

    (Thats all up in smoke now, but thats hindsight in context of this thread)

    Alonso thinks he deserves to be the outright number 1 McClaren driver because he is a double world champion. That last fact you can’t take away from him, but if he is really worthy of such a position then it should have been impossible for him to spend most of the season being upstaged by a first year rookie, if not then he should be capable of a better response than throwing his teddy out of the cot about it.

  38. I dont know what really happened at Hungary and we will never know that!, also I dont know if it is Alonso the one must grow up or Hamilton instead after He and his dad complained at Hungary Q3,… but what i am sure i do know it is that after all help Hamilton is got from the team… Ron Dennis said in China “the rival wanst Kimi, the rival was Alonso…” if Hamilton wouldnt have complained at Hungary, today Alonso and Mclaren Mercedes would have won the champion ship! im totally sure of that!!!

  39. It is sad to see so many “intelligent” human beings forget that Maclaren was called stealing technical information to enhance their chances of making themselves winners. Both drivers and team crimes is overshadowed by the public’s short term memory and morals that if one is called stealing, then one deserves to pay for doing so. Kimi Wins.

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