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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53 comments on Alonso continues attacks on McLaren & Hamilton

  1. I think there is no way that you can win a Formula 1 Championship by luck alone. You have to capitalise on the luck you are given.

    I’ll say it again, Alonso and Lewis are in the same car. What more does Alonso need?

  2. JavierR said on 6th October 2007, 23:38

    He needs no tricks from his team.
    He runs for them, not for Ferrari!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. bizkai said on 6th October 2007, 23:56

    Hamilton slow and Webber and Vettel crash, there is no reason for Hamilton to go right and slow, it seems deliberated, maybe he did not wanted they crashed, just play with them, but it was potentially dangerous and, above all, deliberated.
    1, there is a punish for Vettel for serious fault.
    2, Hamilton is accused for a more serious fault.
    3, the fault of Hamilton is unpunished, what we do with Vettel? A reprimend.
    This is a shameless decision.

  4. oliver said on 7th October 2007, 1:31

    Christopher: He was quoting quote:

    Christina: The conditions under which they drove was unbelievable, and i can assure you that you got a better view of the race track than the drivers. It wasnt just that it was raining, because we’ve had rain on other tracks for years, the difference was that, the water just hangs in the air, mist like no visibility coupled with standing water on the race track itself. Most drivers make it seem like Lewis had it easy because he was in front, but have u stopped to consider, if the pace car itself was making his driving really erratic.

    On a dry track it is far easier to maintain pace behind the safety car, and the safety car itself couldnt maintain a steady pace.

    Speaking about a good championship, that is determined on the track, in times past, most drivers would receive fines for certain behaviour. But for Alonso to claim that a driver wasnt punished thats why his championship is over, is what i cannot understand. What are u suggesting? that Lewis should be stripped of his win? for an incident that didnt take place under racing conditions, and while certain other drivers refused to behave responsibly? We should stop getting emotional here. I’m a big fan of Alonso, but this year really I just cant understand him much.

    And as for the FIA, they know the 5 car length rule is bull in those conditions. They just couldnt postpone the race becuase a lot of viewers would end up missing it cause of allocated time slots expiring especially if u watch on ITV. We dont also know yet if Alonso would have been penalised if he did the same thing, but there is one way to find out, there is a great chance of rain this chinese grandprix, Alonso can try similar actions although the visibility would be better, lets see if the FIA bite.

  5. oliver said on 7th October 2007, 1:45

    We need some consistency, here. I’ve been hearing all year that the FIA wants Ferrari to win and of course that means the world drivers championship, now im hearing all of a sudden they want Hamilton to win it.
    Which is to be believed? Do u really think old Max wants to see Mclaren win anything?

    Dennis knows Max for years, thats why he ensures his cars are always in correct order. Thats also why Max is leaving hanging a clause threatening to ban Mclaren if they find Ferrari intellectual property in their cars, which to me is just another way of punishing the team twice for the same alleged offence. I am also of the view, it would really ensure the Mclaren is not competitive cause, they cant even try out any Ferrari inspired part they have acquired legitimately such as when watching the car drive past the pitlane.

  6. Daniel said on 7th October 2007, 2:51

    With all that Hamilton-Alonso stuff going on, most of you must have forgotten how the spaniard is acting against other drivers this season, and his behaviour would help understanding how good and untouchable he thinks he is…

    Twice this year he got angry when Massa shut the door, even when he ended up passing…

    First, at the Spanish Grand Prix, the first corner clash… Massa, the polesitter, kept the racing line and Alonso went out of the track, and ended up fourth.

    Second, at the European Grand Prix, when it started raining, he was clearly faster than Massa, and tried to pass corner after corner during one and a half lap, they made slight contact, and he passed. Before the podium ceremony, he argued with Massa, saying the brazilian was responsible for their collision, but he was only defending, perhaps aggressively, his position…

    The point is… Alonso is a fantastic driver, wants to beat everyone out of his way, is really aggressive when he needs to, but he doesn’t accept when another driver races him hard…

    He should take care with his words, otherwise he’ll be remembered as a whinner, not as a winner…

  7. MacademiaNut said on 7th October 2007, 3:38


    Look.. Spanish media favors Alonso; British media favors Hamilton. Now, don’t ask all these hypothetical questions.

    What if Alonso did the same thing, he would have been treated differently. Because these things can never have an answer. You will always feel that Alonso would have been treated differently from Hamilton. That’s never going to change.

  8. I’m hearing only one side of the story with the English press. Hamilton can do no wrong and Alonso is the devil. As Cristina said, it’s the opposite if you listen to Spanish media. The F1 television commentators I watch do nothing but drool over Hamilton for 2 hours while constantly bashing Alonso. It’s easy to get tired of after a while.

  9. Cristina said on 7th October 2007, 6:47

    Oliver: I just heard that the decision of the Fia it is that for this time they will not punish Hamilton but they will do if this occurs again!! Funny eh? Why did the Fia punish Fernando when the were no rules to do it!

    I wish the Championship is determined on the track after all what happend this year.

    Why if I defend Alonso I am talking emotionaly and when you are talking you do it only by the facts. Could you answer my first question on this messege?

    I found this so unbeliveble that is why I am here in this blog, I look for some answers, and till now I have none. I do not want to believe everything Spaniard media says but the English media is not telling any thing differently they simply omit many things.

    Fernando also claim that in this classification race his car has different pressure on the last two laps…

  10. morning – still griping are we about hamilton? – I think it was a team owner who said the cars are everything the drivers are nothing – probably miquoted that – but if you are the best driver even in a non competitive car you get results – ooh sorry – that was a long time ago when drivers drove – alonso is a whinger – shame – but when he moves back too renault next year – he will – see what happens then

  11. oliver said on 7th October 2007, 10:23

    Christina, its easy for Alonso to make claims that cant be verified, and its not right for u to support him when u cant tell what tyre pressure he has by looking the tyres. Tyre pressure changes through out a race, and in a cold race like that, if he comes out with a fresh set of tyres, he would have instantly met a cold track and the tyres will drop, and lets not forget it was his accident with Vettel that made him lose time, the commentators didnt know that at the time they were suspecting its probably his tires.

    Another incident worthy of note, Alonso claims all the drivers where unanimously agains Hamilton, but Trulli just said recently, that never happened, they just spoke of the conditions and didnt attact anyone. I guess Trulli is lying aswell.

  12. bizkai said on 7th October 2007, 11:03

    I am not a big fan of Alonso, but i am becoming when i see the way he is attacked and ridiculed, and seeing that the rules seem not to be equaal for everybody.
    Quoting quotes, you say we do need consistency, but the FIA seems the first to lack of it. It does seem they are applying the rules in a way more mild for ones and more severe for others.
    OK about you say about the conditions under wich they drove, but still Hamilton did something not right, to accelerate and to slow down behind a safety car,and he was not punished, in the future the next driver to do it will be punished, but not now, not for Hamilton.
    Still I like Hamilton, but I dislike to see the way the things are happening.

  13. oliver said on 7th October 2007, 11:30

    Bizkai, the only way to move out of a corner is to accelerate, then when u get to a corner u slow down, everybody does that if u havent noticed from previous races. I make no excuses for anyone, but if Lewis had slowed down in the racing line, right in front of Webber, then i’d say he was nuts. However, Hamilton was way to the right side of the track, Webber slammed on the brakes, Vettel was not looking in front of his car.

    You speak of FIA, and if u dont read sensational reports from the press, would you even have an idea what the FIA do.

    If Alonso claims Hamilton was not punished thats why he cant win the championship, even Senna would laugh in his grave if word got to him.

  14. Musavir said on 8th October 2007, 11:37

    what is this, seems like post race show where commentators are going on about, with the hamilton praising and alonso bashing. almost every one here seems to baised towards hamilton. keith i must say, a disappointly baised post.

  15. Why? I’ve quoted him at length, I’ve offered my interpretations, I think I’ve been quite fair. If you don’t agree, fine, but at least explain why.

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