Alonso under attack over leak threat

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Istanbul, 2007 | DaimlerChryslerFernando Alonso has emerged as the villain in the McLaren-Ferrari espionage story as it is being reported by this morning’s papers.

Most of today’s reports centre on Alonso’s threat to Ron Dennis that he would expose what he knew about the espionage scandal to the FIA if Dennis did not agree to give him undisputed number one status in the team.

The Alonso story is the latest outrageous twist in the spy scandal – but it should not be a distraction from the wider picture, which has revealed actions within McLaren that are utterly incompatible with the ethics of fair competition.

The Times is pushing the Alonso angle strongly and Ed Gorman is questioning whether the Spanish racer can even remain at the team for the remainder of 2007:

The disclosures increase the likelihood that the Spaniard will not drive for the Woking-based team next season and will possibly join Renault or even take a year’s sabbatical.

There were even suggestions that he may not survive the remainder of this season, which would effectively present the world championship to Lewis Hamilton, his rookie team-mate.

But even more interesting is what Gorman has to say in his log about Dennis’s reaction to the story:

To my knowledge Ron was told exactly what we were going to write but he made no effort on Friday either to deny the story or tell us about Fernando’s apology which would have made it quite a bit better for Fernando. As it is Fernando’s reputation as a man and as a sportsman has taken a huge knock and McLaren did nothing to stop it.

Was this incompetence, a desire to deflect attention away from coverage of Ron and the judgement or was it a deliberate decision to throw Fernando to the wolves?

But in focussing on how the espionage scandal might affect the team at the heart of it we run the risk of overlooking the damage it could do to the sport. In The Independent James Lawton spells out the reality very plainly:

There has been a strong sense that somehow Lewis Hamilton has been rescued from unwarranted threats to extraordinary drive into the sun. Here is the ultimate mistake. Hamilton is not apart from the scandal. Whether he is free of any blame or not, he is at its centre… and may yet be the supreme winner in a race which has lost all moral footing.

Photo: Daimler Chrysler

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