Alonso continues attacks on McLaren & Hamilton

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Monte-Carlo, 2007 | DaimlerFernando Alonso can still win the 2007 championship – but he’s preparing for defeat by seizing every opportunity to take swipes at Lewis Hamilton and McLaren.

So far this weekend he’s alleged that the stewards handed Hamilton the championship by not punishing him after the Japanese Grand Prix, angered McLaren boss Ron Dennis by refusing to deny that McLaren would purposefully hinder his title bid, and later launched into a scathing denunciation of how Dennis runs McLaren.

Here’s what he said:

In Thursday’s press conference Alonso was asked, “Do you think you have been treated in a fair way by the team or could maybe the team favour Lewis by making subtle changes to your car, like tyre pressures or wing settings?”

Alonso’s reply was:

Difficult question… I will not answer.

Nothing could be guaranteed to anger Ron Dennis more and his reaction was predictably furious:

There are numerous equality clauses in our contracts, they are reciprocal. We never have, never will and certainly are not favouring either driver at the moment.

This is a straight fight and I’m obviously disappointed that someone who really has all the knowledge should not be more direct and open with the response.”

It strikes a raw nerve with Dennis who remembers the acrimonious world championship of 1989, fought out between bitter rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost in McLaren. Prost, like Alonso today, fell out with the team and arranged to leave.

Dennis was furious when FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre (Prost’s fellow Frenchman) instructed Dennis in a public letter to ensure both drivers received fair treatment. Dennis insisted that his drivers would be treated equally.

Asked to defend his ‘no comment’ Alonso later responded:

It’s better to be silent than to lie, that’s for sure. And that’s something he [Dennis] should do more often and I think the team would do better. Many of the scandals McLaren have been involved in off the track this year have been created by his things.

Each one has his own philosophy, he has his, and we all understand it. I have spoken a lot with Coulthard, with Montoya, with Kimi, and they have all left the team and found a lot of happiness. There must be a reason.

Alonso’s remarks are confusing and even contradictory. Sometimes he appears to be insinuating that Hamilton gets preferential treatment from the team. Other times he seems annoyed that he is given exactly the same treatment as Hamilton, or unhappy that, in giving drivers fair treatment over the long term, it means certain drivers are compromised at different times:

[Dennis] didn’t promise me anything. You are always hearing about that so called equality in the team, but tell me what you brag about and I’ll tell you what you are lacking.

It’s impossible to have equality in a Formula One team, there’s always a better engine, a better lap to stop in, there’s always a better option.

I’m not saying it’s not equality, because sometimes it’s one driver’s turn and other times it’s the other’s, but you always hear him talk about that or promising things, and it’s not like that.

Alonso’s gripe appears to be that he assumed he would be given primacy in the team over Hamilton, which hasn’t happened, and he now feels that the team are given Hamilton more favourable treatment than he is.

But his endless sniping at the team, which has noticeably escalated since their very public fall-out at the Hungarian Grand Prix, comes across as though he is seizing every single stick to beat them with.

I don’t believe his claim McLaren are favouring Hamilton for one second – it just doesn’t add up. Why hire a double champion in the first place and then favour the rookie?

Before the season began many of McLaren’s race mechanics wanted to be on Alonso’s side of the garage because they expected the double world champion to lead the way. Does that sound like an team where one driver is given preference over another? Because it sounds like a meritocracy to me, which is exactly what an F1 team should be.

Alonso clearly has been used to a different kind of environment at Renault. Giancarlo Fisichella was never a threat to him and his predecessor, Jarno Trulli, was dumped from the team before the end of 2004 after giving Alonso a hard time all year. The Spaniard even crashed out at Monte-Carlo trying to beat his team mate.

If we’ve learned one thing about Alonso this year it’s that he cannot stand to be beaten by the guy in the same car as him. Further evidence of that also came this weekend.

After a difficult qualifying session today Alonso went on the attack once more, claiming that the stewards were wrong not to punish Hamilton over the incident behind the safety car at the Japanese Grand Prix:

I’m not thinking of this championship anymore, it’s been decided off the track.

The drivers’ briefing has no purpose. You go there to hear what Charlie Whiting and the other officials say. Twenty one drivers have an opinion, Charlie and the officials another, and so it’s like talking to a wall. It’s better not to waste time and try to have fun in the car.

Alonso’s words remind me of his anger after being punished in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix last year. Alonso was adjudged to have impeded Felipe Massa despite the Ferrari driver being 100m behind him at the time.

Afterwards he famously said, “I don’t consider F1 a sport anymore.”

Hearing him criticise Hamilton in the same way now, those words have a hollow ring.

Alonso had a lot of paddock sympathy on his side for his punishment at Monza last year. But complaining in this way about a stewards ruling on an incident he wasn’t involved in, and which is far less clear-cut than the Monza incident last year, makes him seem desperate and bitter.

He also said of McLaren:

I’m ready to do the best I can, to help the team, to have a good car and try to win races. But… things like what they say or do, or days like at Spa, or all the lies that they leak to the press, both British and German, to go against me. That, inside my own team… they have to do something to improve the situation.

But he did, at least, have one positive thing to say about Hamilton:

I think so, I think he deserves it if he wins it in the end. I think you have to know how to win and how to lose, and if I don’t win this year it’s because someone has scored more points than me, and if that’s the case it’s because he has done a better job.

“You have to know how to win and how to lose.” On the evidence of this, Alonso hasn’t yet mastered the art of being a graceful loser. Perhaps he hasn’t had much practice.

Twelve months ago I was glad to see him win his second title – he hadn’t made a mistake all year or employed the kind of cynical tactics that Michael Schumacher resorted to in Monte-Carlo.

But this year his inability to accept equal status with Hamilton and his string of attacks on a team that have given a car that allows him to fight for the championship, make him seem an entirely different person.

Photo: Daimler

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54 comments on Alonso continues attacks on McLaren & Hamilton

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  1. Ricardo said on 6th October 2007, 15:52

    Equal conditions?
    Alonso makes 2 laps without errors, and Lewis takes 1/2 seconds ahead him. Has Fernando forgotten driving?

  2. It’s about expectations I guess, Alonso handled the role as underdog and newcomer flawlessly in his fights against Schumacher. This year he has a completely different oulook, hence the seemingly 180 degree turn of personality. Maybe Hamilton will experience that in the future as well.

    It’s a shame that right now Alonso is like poison for his own team, as he has been for a few months now. It doesn’t help that drivers inflated egos make them extremely biased in any argument, it’s all about blaming everyone else but oneself.

  3. There has been just too much said and done this year. Frankly after the whole thing I actually dont blame Alonso for what he has said and done… The reason for that is there is just far too little information that steps out of the “Hear-Say” barrier.

    And the fact that I dont believe that “Beaten by team mate so sour” thing either… People just jumped on the theory very early and now its almost an accepted fact.

    A lot has happened both legal and illegal in the Mc Laren garages this season and we have not been exposed to even the tip of the ice berg.

    One thing I do agree with you is that the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix was clearly the breaking point. Every body sees it as the time Alonso lost the plot but in my view that weekend was important simply coz 2 drivers made errors that evening and only one was punished(and severely too)

    I am not defending Alonso, I dont think he needs defence but I dont think we have the amount of information to make a judgment.

  4. Ricardo said on 6th October 2007, 16:36

    It’s quite possible Lewis would had win without McLaren an FIA’s favours, but we will not ever know. It’s a pitty, it would had been a great championship end.

  5. oliver said on 6th October 2007, 17:20

    Yes, both drivers behaved badly in Hungary, the difference was that Hamiltons behaviour was inside the team, Alonso’s behaviour became an FIA matter because it was done on track. Granted it was a within the team and i think the FIA was wrong to penalize him not withstanding he left the FIA with little choice. And if Maclaren where not on his side, i dont believe they would have been panalized also, they tried it vain to defend his actions, but it was always goin to be a very difficult task.

    Its easier to speak with hindsight, the best he could have done was make the team punish Hamilton by denying him choice of qualifying slot.

    I really feel sad for Alonso, cause its bad enough to be beaten by a team mate, but imagine being beaten by a rookie whose first real drive in an F1 car was only 2 months before the season began.

  6. Ali AydoÄŸan said on 6th October 2007, 18:11

    Most people speak about Alonso not accepting equal treatment with Hamilton and wanting preferential treatment. Did anybody hear something about it from the team or from Alonso? A link please?

    Was not the driver who did not allow his teammate get his extra lap (because it was teammate’s turn for that race in terms of equality) Hamilton?

    I think Alonso is silent about spying scandal because he needed a car to race for the WDC till the end of the season and I am looking forward to hearing his version of the story, which is missing currently. Then we may discover that Ron is a liar that saying Ferrari data were not known to the team but only to Alonso, De La Rosa and Coughlan. And maybe we can discover that there are many more lies being told by McLaren.

    Todays q3 was interesting anyway, I hope Alonso does not pit when the team tells so and keeps going, then we can see how many laps an F1 car can go without fuel :) He already lost the WDC and I think this conspiracy theory deserves a check? :)

  7. Varun said on 6th October 2007, 18:44

    lewis is only a average driver in a very good car and team (with a lot of ferrari tactics). The real value of lewis would come out if he were given a spyker to drive. I personally feel sutil is lot better than lewis.

    And also lewis has not right to speak about alonso not being considerate to the team because he does not obey the team strategy.

    Had the same safety car incident happened to lewis then he would have criticized every one for that.

    bottom line lewis is an A** **** who know only how to cry. Hes still a cry baby. and a lucky champion.

  8. oliver said on 6th October 2007, 19:20

    If he is an average driver, then perhaps your two time world champion is what? I guess you, Varun can probably drive these cars with one hand. Dont forget, Sutil and Lewis were team mates last year in GP2. I guess its now the competition between two average drivers and who is better.

    When it comes to team strategy, the best a driver can do is not to keep attacking the team he is driving for, and Alonso has done a lot of that this year.

    I cant understand why people get so emotional, and start hauling insults at drivers who they have never even met.

    Formula1 is not a national sport, its a team sport with drivers doin their thing for themselves. Support a driver based on merit and not nationality.

  9. I have never driven an F1 car and cannot pass comment on the situation a driver is in when it is raining. However, if the safety car has been deployed, the drivers will be aware of poor conditions.

    Lewis Hamilton is not a champion yet. I don’t believe that a four way battle for most of the season would result in a championship being achieved by luck.

    I belive the word you are looking for, Varun, is not lucky but worthy.

  10. oliver said on 6th October 2007, 20:28

    It was the same Ecclestone saying earlier this year he thought Massa was going to win the championship. He does have a point about Kimi, you never see him anywhere else but the race track, once the race is over, he just vanishes.

    By the way Victor, who are u quoting in your first post?

  11. Cristina said on 6th October 2007, 22:11

    I am amaized how the English press and therefore English people only talk bad about Fernando Alonso words when he critized Hamilton or Dennis or the team, but as I can read and wacht in Spain Hamilton does the same, even worst sometimes!

    What about Fia doing nothing about Hamilton behaviour in the last race, have you not watched the video?.

    http://www.marca.com/edicion/marca/motor/formula1/es/desarrollo/1043562.html

    It is so clear! I am sure that if it was Fernando instead another thing totaly diferent would have happend. Dont you remember that was Hamilton the first one to go against Dennis at the beginning of the season?

    Fernando Alonso had every thing against him, when the are no roles, Fia create it to go against him (Hungary), and when Hamilton goes against the roles Fia see nothing (Japon)

    It is really a shame that we can not see a good championship because Fia is not doing its job. Both are good, but they are not treated in the same way.

    (Sorry for my English…)

  12. bizkai said on 6th October 2007, 22:16

    What does happen in F1? The bad things seems happen to everybody but not to Hamilton. More, bad things seems happen to everybody that seems obstruct the way of Hamilton. Lucky is not the word, i would say a less beautiful word. Hamilton has enough conditions to win on his own, I dislike to see all this favoritism.
    Collantine, do you know what means impartial?, or do you write just only for readers with british passport?

  13. oliver said on 6th October 2007, 22:30

    I for one take an impartial view on the whole affair, nevertheless, i find it strange arm chair F1 drivers would point to a video and say hamilton was to blame without specifically saying why.

    As someone who watched the race and have seen many videos, I cant understand how Hamilton will slow down, keep very far away to the right of the track, then some time passed, then some more time, then later, Webber is speaking Drag queen English;)

    Jokes apart, Webber and Vettel had themselves to blame, they were just too close, and Vettel in particular, if u want to gawk, park ur car by the side of the road then look to your hearts content, when u’ve seen enough get back in your car and drive. He really should be punished for his statement alone.

    If the race was about to restart u can understand the accident, but they were still under saftey car conditions, and they would have been informed by their respective teams if the safety car was coming in leaving them with enough time to catch up with any driver ahead.

  14. Christopher said on 6th October 2007, 22:35

    Oliver: He was quoting what Keith wrote in the article.

  15. Cristina said on 6th October 2007, 22:40

    Oliver, I have heard, please tell me if I am wrong, that it is forbiden to accelerate and to restrain, when safety car situation to avoid what did happend. Yes there were too close but I insist I doubt Fernando would have been treated in the same way as I have seen this season…

    I personaly thing that a race in this conditions are to be postpone, too many laps with safety car in my opinion anyway. There are too many things that goes first and not a clean and good competition.

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