Video: Alonso’s dirty trick on Hamilton (updated)

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’s dirty trick on Hamilton (updated)

  1. 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.

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

  3. Isabel II said on 4th August 2007, 16:55

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

  4. 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.

  5. Roger said on 4th August 2007, 17:02

    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….

  6. 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. ;)

  7. Fer no.65 said on 4th August 2007, 17:23

    he’s really annoying… PLEASE NICK, BEAT THEM AND START THE OH-LITTLE-BABY-CRYING ALONSO AGAIN!!!!!!

  8. Ben Goldberg said on 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.

  9. steve said on 4th August 2007, 17:50

    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

  10. 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!

  11. Fred said on 4th August 2007, 18:54

    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.

  12. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th August 2007, 19:01

    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.

  13. Fred said on 4th August 2007, 19:04

    “[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.

  14. Magnus said on 4th August 2007, 21:39

    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?

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