British tabloids blame Alonso

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Hungary, 2007, practice, 2 | Daimler ChryslerThere have been many comments on my blog over the past few days claiming that the British media blamed Fernando Alonso for the qualifying controversy at McLaren without mentioning Lewis Hamilton’s role.

I took a look at all the reports in today’s papers and I was glad to see that all of the ‘quality’ newspapers covered the controversy quite fairly.

The tabloids, on the other hand, ignored or obscured references to Hamilton’s misdeeds, and almost universally portrayed Alonso as the bad guy. Here’s what they said.

The Sun, Britain’s most popular newspaper, completely ignored Hamilton’s role in provoking the controversy by refusing to let Alonso pass him at the start of qualifying:

The McLaren duo are at war after the Spaniard was hit with a five-place grid penalty for wrecking Hamilton’s hopes of pole position in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

The Daily Mirror ran a piece on page nine that also ignored what Hamilton did. Its race report on page 58 described his actions in qualifying as having a ‘small part’ to play in the controversy:

The Spaniard unnecessarily impeded his team-mate and banished him from pole to sixth, elevating the rookie to front spot…

Hamilton had a small part to play in events as he had triggered it by ignoring team orders earlier in the session.

The story is much the same in the Daily Mail:

Alonso wrecked Hamilton’s probable pole position.

He calculatingly sat still in his pit box ?????? despite his tyres having been changed and the lollipop raised ?????? for an extra 10 seconds while waited just behind as the clock ticked down. Time ran out before the rookie could complete his final flying lap. It left him second to Alonso.

But give credit where it’s due – The Daily Star was the only tabloid to do the story justice and even mentioned Hamilton’s misdeed before Alonso’s:

Hamilton had earlier ignored McLaren team instructions by not allowing duble world champion Fernando Alonso to get by at the start of the final 15-minute qualifying session on Saturday.

And as usual the ‘quality’ papers – The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph gave much more even-handed coverage.

I understand why people who live outside Britain want to criticise us and our media for portraying our home-grown sporting stars in a positive light.

But I hope they in turn recognise that usually it’s just hype in tabloid newspapers whose F1 coverage is virtually non-existent when there isn’t a controversy, a big crash, or a British driver doing well. There’s a reason why we call them the gutter press. I’ll certainly think twice before I make such assumptions about the Spanish or Italian media.

Photo: Daimler Chrysler

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