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

  1. 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.

  2. Musavir said on 8th October 2007, 12:05

    to answer, first i think i’l ask one question, if you were alonso, you thougth that , a british a british would be pleased to have a british champion than spainish champion. later you infered that the team is actually favouring him[just for now assume, that it is like that]. what would you do? would you rather let everything go by ineffect let you chanmpionship chances go by or would you stand up and fight.

  3. I don’t see how that makes what I wrote ‘biased’?

    And if Alonso had a shred of proof McLaren were favouring Hamilton over him he’d go straight to the FIA with it, because they warned Ron Dennis after the second espionage hearing that they’d be on the lookout for any unequal treatment. But he hasn’t, presumably because there is none.

  4. Musavir said on 8th October 2007, 14:59

    true he doesn’t have any proof. because the way i see it is, he is standing up to what he belives and he is fighting for what he thinks is his. in your whole writing never do take this(teams biased nature) as an possibility.

    to indicate little more elaborately why i thought it(your post) was biased,

    “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:”

    except for may be rumours we don’t have a case where we know for sure alonso did ask for preferencial treatment.
    ofcourse, barring for lewis’s statements which indicate in that direction. to be honest i don’t belive those, as i dont belive the “im a more team player than alonso” remarks or “i feel more attached to team and than alonso” remarks. we just have to look alonso days at renault.
    whose say that alonso may have asked the team to stop favouring hamilton as much. which could be twisted to say “he wants hamilton to be less favoured, hence favouring him more”.
    one thing that stands out in the whole thing is that he doesn’t feel the backing of the team as much as he thinks the team is backing hamilton. which he thinks team owes him.

    as proof for this you don’t need to look beyond this weekend, just ron’s comment that they racing alonso and not kimi say it all if you ask me.

    Ron Dennis defended their decision to delay Hamilton’s stop by saying: “We weren’t racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando.”

    somehow the use of word “we” here for me reckon that alonso is not part of the it. more info here http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7032284.stm

    points alonso made are,
    1. ron prefers lying to being queit. no comments here.
    2. you can’t have optimal stratergy for two drivers, no point arguing over this as it true most of the times.
    3. you take turns for optimal strategy.

    form here how did you arrive this,

    “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.”

    besides its a repetative point, answer will be same as above so will not answer it again.

    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.

    two thinks that strike here is,

    1. hamilton was the one who started, it seems no one wants remember that part. and i remember correctly mcclaren didn’t take any action against him. surely he broke understanding that was withing the team.
    2. exactly since that incident i seem haven’t seen that agreement being employed, so i far alonso hasn’t got that additional lap in Q3 since then.

    so is he wrong in doing so?

    “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?”

    from what i understand the favourism (atleast the claims of it) were not there until he was in a almost position to be one(champ) himself. if looked from that point you are right it doesn’t add up, but can’t base your points from that point.

    “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.”

    if your referring to post qualifying incident, he was not wrong to belive that given same setup and approximately same fuel load hamilton suddenly couldn’t have been so much faster!!, which brings me to a big question why was he not aware of fuel load of his teammate?

    “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 criticize Hamilton in the same way now, those words have a hollow ring.”

    this is by afar the most stretched comparison, i my opinion, there we knew that no way on earth he would have effected massa. all f1 drivers also knew. where as here,

    it seems that he was was bit erratic behind the safety car, where 21 formula one drivers agree that it was a bit erratic, there should some reason for that. so he felt so in which there is nothing wrong. so you most definitely can’t compare both. whether he should penalized or not is different.

    so all in all i think you have taken everything one from one side, without considering the other possibilities. also a bit biased on a lot that is already been said over and over and over again.

    like yourself pointing out that alonso would rather have preferencial treatment twice in post!!.

    finally i ain’t no alonso fan, i just felt like i should stand up for him, as i have immense respect for him as a driver. that again doesn’t mean i have none to lewis.

    who ever wins the championship deserves it, as all drivers have a great a job(alonso a little more as he is been under a lot psyhcological pressure), i would really loved it kimi wins it.

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th October 2007, 17:13

    That must be one of the longest comments I’ve ever had!

    I don’t think our points of view are reconcilable. But I don’t think that any of what I wrote in the first place can reasonably be described as bias, and I think some of the other pieces I’ve written on the subject further demonstrate my attempts to be as impartial as possible:

    British tabloids blame Alonso
    Another PR disaster for McLaren
    Alonso under attack over leak threat

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

    I think the original article is clearly biased against alonso because of expressions used like

    “but he’s preparing for defeat by seizing every opportunity to take swipes at Lewis Hamilton and McLaren.”

    “But his endless sniping at the team,…”

    Alonso is not pretending to attack MClaren in any way and i can demonstrate it using the same line of reasoning as in your article:

    “Why hire a double champion in the first place and then favour the rookie?”

    Why attack a team you depend on to win the champion you still have options to win?

    Ok so we should just leave alonso’s comments (some unfortunate) as a result of mixed feelings, lot of pressure, some wierd things happenning, etc. just as hamiltons unfortunate comments as well.

    Now, nevertheless, let me state two opnions I have i would like someone to rebate me:

    1) Clearly, Mclaren sentiments are with Lewis. No driver would be confortable in any way knowing his team is with the teammate. This is not good feeling. And i really think this was not started as alonso against the team, but as the team being pro hamilton.
    2) Hamilton has had the benefit of the doubt from FIA. Alonso has not had it.

    So its easy to say Alonso its losing it against a rookie and thats all, but i dont think thats all the story.

    Anyway, we have an interesting last race!

  7. oliver said on 8th October 2007, 22:07

    The way you know the number one driver in a team, is when you see the team principal on the podium ceremony whenever he wins.

    Ron has been up there with Alonso
    Todt no longer does it because he now occupies a much more senior position in Ferrari, and besides, Massa would just die.

    Alonso demoted himself from that position of number one.
    Same time last year, Alonso was saying Renault did not want him to win the championship, that he gets no support, he has to win on his own. Fisichela got a drive through penalty in Belguim for slowing Kimi down in the pits so Alonso could win.

    Hamilton is getting all the press attention in Mclaren, no fault of his. Alonso thought the press would see him as the saviour of Mclaren.

    I am a fan of Alonso, I still want him to win, but he is not often in touch with reality.

  8. Musavir said on 9th October 2007, 9:22

    in the what im trying to say is, in your post your view comes as hard bashing of alonso, appears to be just going along wtih opinion out there. @jamie has mentioned a couple things, the most difficult to understand was the comparsion with massa incident.

  9. oliver said on 9th October 2007, 10:58

    Musavir, the reason I now come to this site and comment on it, is because Its the only english site i believe, where there is no sensationalism, matter of fact, the reporting here is just like reading a log of events, and the analysis are based on fact and not personal feelings. The fact you can also leave your opinion for everyone else to read implies a level fairness you dont get from most other racing sites.

    The fact Ron Dennis has not said not made any comment concerning Alonso’s allegations, speaks a lot of his maturity.

    If Alonso doesnt win the championship in his mind it will always be because, he was not getting any help.

    Alonso said Dennis was the first to say he wasnt talking to him. But before Belgium, in Hungary after the qualifying incident, Ron Dennis went to Alonso, and he just ignored him completely. His own boss. Mclaren even got into trouble trying to defend Alonso’s action.

    Alonso said he talked to Kimi and Montoya and Coulthard.

    If Kimi had a problem with Mclaren its because of his hard partying. There is no way Kimi can claim he didnt get the best attention in that team.

    Montoya needed some time to adjust in a new team, but he would make a mistake and say it was the car, even when the telemetry was saying another thing. Only him can claim he didnt get equal attention.

    Coulthard was in that team for 9 seasons. Apart from M Schumacher at Ferrari, what other driver can claim a longer stay in any team. Coulthard demoted himself to second position because he couldnt qaulify well despite doing well in race conditions. He definitely cant have anyting bad to say cause he got equal equipment.

    The FIA cannot force a disgruntled employee on any team, especially one who seems to destroy the morale in the team. Hamilton even said, Alonso doesnt talk to anyone in the team. I wish somehow we can get Pedro’s honest opinion, without the spanish press crucifying him.

  10. bizkai said on 9th October 2007, 13:47

    Oliver,
    Do you know really to read spanish? or just you presuppose what spanish press do.
    I read some press from your country, some of my country and some from another countries, and I find the uk press seems go in a different way than the rest of the world, about Hamilton and Alonso (being honest the german press seems agree with uk press, but not the rest of the world).
    Does it mean something?

  11. oliver said on 9th October 2007, 14:43

    Bizkai, you only assume I am english, and your assumption is clearly indicative of the problems with most peoples perception and response to issues of Formula1, for which they have no first hand knowledge.

    I will be the first to admit that the British press are way offline and I have stated that on several occasions. The issues now are not really the press. Alonso is behaving badly, and its his fault if he listens to the press, be it English, German or Spanish.

    This site on which you are so joyfully rendering your comments in, can pass for the English press, but you only get nothing but fair reporting and assessments on F1fanatic.

    If u watch Formula1 on any tv station alligned with ITV, I can list out numerous sins from Allen and Brundle, and not just even about Hamilton, but Button and Coulthard aswell.

    Most people dislike Hamilton because of the press aswell. He didnt force the press to report his activites, he didnt beg for it. They just do it. The same too in spain.

    About the German press. Do you think the Germans dont want to see one of their drivers in that car? do you think they are crazy about a British driver? But when Alonso accuses Mclaren and Mercedes of conspiring against him, I’m surprised a Unimorg didnt accidentaly run him over last race at the Nurburgring (first attempt at spelling that in my life by the way).

    Bizkai…At the end of the day, most of our perceptions of events are shaped up by the media, if not for the media you would have no idea who Alonso was, despite he is from spain. Taking that into consideration, It is now left for you as an individual to either remain gaullible and consume entirely all information you are fed, or to have an open mind in order to filter out information that is only meant to inflame passions.

    I recall a post race press conference a few races back, when i believe Alonso had a few problems, an English journalist asked, Hamilton “do you even care what happened to Alonso today?” Even Hamilton had to say “thats a very silly question”, “of course i care, he is my team mate……”

    Many individuals have formed their opinions based on that of someone else, what they have been fed. People even accuse R. Dennis of being a cheat, and and a liar, what do they know about the man to question his intergrity, or that of anyone else.
    We never know peoples motive for writing, but never allow someones hatred for an individual to be passed on to you.

    My final advice, form ur decisions and make ur comments or judgements based on verifiable facts and not someones hear say or worse of all, taking a persons opinion as fact.

  12. David said on 9th October 2007, 16:49

    although being objective is nearly imposible I can help but thinking Lewis is getting Ron’s favours. These are Ron’s words after China:

    “The problem was rain and his (Hamilton’s) tyres were in the worst condition. But we weren’t at all fazed about Kimi. We weren’t racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando.
    “Kimi winning and Lewis coming second was adequate. It just didn’t quite work out that way.”
    Taken from British press…
    Who is still thinking they get equal treatment?

  13. oliver said on 9th October 2007, 17:42

    Any good team, will always use the term “We”, in response to their drivers, and Ron always talks like that, especially when like in this case the team was basically responsible for his pit stop fiasco. Everything is not always black and white. It may surprise you to find, the team may just want him, Alonso, to win it so he can pack his things and go elsewhere.

    But then, I am still of the belief Alonso has insulted his race engineers and mechanics, for implying that he gets no support in the team.

  14. bizkai said on 11th October 2007, 13:07

    Oliver,
    I can not accept that the meaning of the words of Dennis may be just reduced to semantic terms.I try to understand your reasoning, but for me it does make non sense. I think simply all of them are exposing clearly their likes and dislikes, Dennis, Alonso, Hamilton, Ecclestone…
    About the mechanics, may be Alonso is not an easy going person, I am not his biggest fan, but I think he is not stupid. Nobody would accuse his own team, his own mechanics, if there is not a previous reasonably shadow of doubt about your team is doing.
    The mechanics did feel insulted…well, maybe Alonso did feel something like that.

  15. David said on 11th October 2007, 13:28

    Hi Olover,
    As you said, lets judge on verifiable facts:
    McLaren
    -Barhein: Alonso’s car is damaged during the night.
    -Canada: Alonso complains about car behaviour, Lewis car was OK
    -France: Problems in Q3 for Alonso (gear box was damaged, not Lewis one)
    -Belgium: A lid from the oil tank was missing in Fernando’s car.
    -Japan: Tire pressure incorrect in Fernando’s car (just for Q3)
    -China: Alonso was the fastest during tests but slower again in Q3 plus Ron’s words
    -Bad pit strategy for Alonso in Australia and USA

    FIA
    -Germany: Lewis car on track by the tow track
    -Hungary incident (changing rules??!?!?!?!)
    -Italy: Illegal start from Lewis, no punishment at all.

    Obviously these are facts that refer to Alonso, other drivers could complain for other reasons but I never heard something like that at any other sport.

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