Alonso is not the victim of a McLaren conspiracy

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Interlagos, 2007 | DaimlerA petition claiming that Fernando Alonso is the victim of ‘irregularities’ has garnered almost 130,000 signatures. Can that many people be wrong? Yes.

The FIA have even gone so far as to appoint a special steward to ensure Alonso and Lewis Hamilton receive equal treatment at McLaren this weekend as both fight for the world championship, following complaints by Alonso and Spanish motor sport federation head Carlos Gracia.

Is there really a plot against Alonso? No. What we have here is a conspiracy theory with not a shred of evidence to back it up.

The petition lists a series of grievances ranging from well-known incidents like the furore at the Hungaroring during qualifying, to some less obvious complaints.

Apparently when a lighting pod fell on Alonso’s car on Saturday night at the Bahrain Grand Prix, causing minor damage to the front wing, that was no accident. No, it was the sinister hand of McLaren trying to twist events in Hamilton’s favour.

Italian Grand Prix 2007, start | Ferrari MediaSome of the other complaints betray a total unfamiliarity with the F1 rule book. Regarding the Italian Grand Prix, “Hamilton placed his car diagonally when positioning himself on the starting grid,” which is not illegal, drivers have been doing it for years. Nor is it illegal to move back towards the racing line having moved once to defend your position. It’s not as if there have been widespread complaints about Hamilton’s driving from other racers.

There are several well-worn controversies that are worth noting. Of course the ‘injustice’ of the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying is trotted out, where Alonso was punished for delaying Hamilton in the pits, but Hamilton received no sanction for refusing to let Alonso past at the start of qualifying. As has been noted here before, Alonso broke a rule and Hamilton didn’t, which is why Alonso got punished. Simple as that.

Some of petition’s points about more recent races have since been dismissed by Alonso himself. Regarding Shanghai he recently said: “I realised tyre pressures were too high and this can happen in qualifying. It was coincidence and a bit of bad luck.”

Chinese Grand Prix 2007, Shanghai International Circuit, start | DaimlerSimilarly regarding Ron Dennis’s remark “we were racing Fernando” when referring to Hamilton’s strategy in the Chinese race Alonso said: “I was surprised, but I think it is difficult to see what is true, what is just normal words that you say after the race and if you take in a different way you can make some problems. I don’t see anything strange, I was surprised but not really worried.”

Things have also gone wrong for Hamilton this year: the wheel failure in qualifying at the Nurburgring, the bad tyre strategy calls at the Nurburgring and Shanghai, and the tyre failure at Istanbul. If these had happened to Alonso, no doubt they would form part of this roster of woe. As it is, they’re ignored.

Three teams broke the tyre rules yesterday. One of them was McLaren – but it wasn’t Alonso whose weekend was put in jeopardy was it?

But the strongest argument against the flimsy ‘evidence’ presented is this: there is not a shred of proof. It complains about controversies like the collision between Webber and Vettel under the safety car at Shanghai while Hamilton was leading, but it doesn’t say why Hamilton should be held responsible and what rule he is supposed to have broken.

There are plenty of obvious arguments against the conspiracy theory, Here’s two:

Why would McLaren want to sabotage their own driver?

Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Melbourne, 2007 | DaimlerThe petition assumes that Alonso has been nobbled since the beginning of the season, which is just preposterous. The suggestion that a team would sign a double world champion, ink numerous high-value contracts with sponsors on the back of the deal, and then sabotage his efforts from day one, deserves only contempt.

If the team wanted Hamilton to win and no-one else, they’d have paired him with a less competitive driver. Signing two top drivers and letting them fight among themselves is the McLaren way, regardless of what headaches it may have given them. It was thus for Prost and Lauda, Prost and Senna, Senna and Berger, Hakkinen and Coulthard, Raikkonen and Coulthard, Raikkonen and Montoya, and so on.

Alonso and Hamilton are both brilliant drivers who McLaren have given equal equipment to. And if either of them is champion tomorrow they will deserve it because they have beaten a strong team mate in equal machinery.

If there is a conspiracy, why has it failed?

If McLaren really wanted Alonso to lose the title to Hamilton, do you really think he’s be only four points behind him at the final race?

No, he’d have had a blown engine here and a hydraulic failure there. McLaren had plenty of retirements last year, it’s not as if it would have looked unusual.


Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2006 | Ferrari MediaI’m certainly not saying that the FIA gets everything right – far from it. At the Hungarian Grand Prix last year Michael Schumacher went off the track to keep position over another driver, and went unpunished. At the Monaco Grand Prix this year several drivers cut the track at the first corner to overtake another driver, and went unpunished.

Drivers, teams, governing bodies, they’re all run by humans and they all make mistakes.

But to suggest a team would conspire against its driver with the implicit approval of the governing body makes no sense, has no justification, and has no proof to back it up. It’s a classic conspiracy theory.

Princess Diana was not killed by the British Secret Service at the behest of the Duke of Edinburgh. Neil Armstrong did walk on the surface of the moon. And Fernando Alonso is not receiving unequal treatment at McLaren.


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39 comments on “Alonso is not the victim of a McLaren conspiracy”

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  1. Carlos, can you give me a link to who warned Hamilton after Monza and what they said because I can’t see anything on that? I’m a bit confused about the reference because the safety car wasn’t deployed at Monza.

    In an ideal world I agree with you that the rules should be fixed and unchanged from the start of the season. But like I said in the piece, people are human and they make mistakes – it does not mean there is a conspiracy. If a rule can be reasonably considered to be wrong then surely you agree it’s better to change the rules than force drives to adhere to a bad rule that may even be dangerous?

    I don’t know whether ordering drivers to keep within five car lengths of the safety car in pouring rain, when they have other safety matters to attend to such as keeping their brakes from glazing over, is reasonable or not. I’ve not been in that position, and unless you’re actually an F1 driver writing under a false name, neither do you.

    Regarding the last point, I know of no context from which to say the FIA definitely treated Hamilton different to how they have treated other drivers because I don’t think any other driver has ever been punished for driving erratically behind the safety car. Do you know of any?

  2. Keith,

    “people are human and they make mistakes”, ok about it, but we have seen too much mistakes in benefit of only one driver. And precisely this is about we are talking.

    Well, I think about this point we are not going to agree, we have different views(and maybe this is a good thing). Thank you for your comments.

    So, good luck to all of them for tomorrow(today).

  3. Hi Guys, I think it’s difficult to see things when you dont want to, thats human, we ALL do it, but what i see is:

    Hamilton was the responsable (with his driving) or Vettels and Webber’s accident in Japan, In that accident Vettel was punished for being responsable, until was proved that they both were victims of Hamilton’s way of driving, so no one is punished then. FIA says never again. (same as when he was rtescued from the gravel in Germany)

    Alonso got punished in Hungary for a team discoordination asumed by the team as said Ron and Mr Haugh (even when no writen rule was broken) and Alonso got punished. But in Barsil, a writen rule was broken again by bad gestion from the team, and Hamilton was not punished. Similar rule involving tyre use was broken by Ralf only two years ago in Monaco, and he got punished.

    Alonso got punished in Monza when he was in his fast lap 80 metres in front of Massa and “disturbed” him, now Hamilton ruins last attemp from Raikkonen when he was getting into the track from boxes, even HE wasn’t in his fast lap, and again Hamilton is not punished.

    Isn’t thsi enough to see that Hamilton receives different treatment than the rest of drivers??? for me is enough

  4. Surely asking about whether the FIA have deviated from precedent regarding Lewis Hamilton is like asking if a bear s**** in the woods. Their punishments are notoriously inconsistent, so you cannot possibly rely on past instances to determine whether a “fair” punishment was handed out.

    What we can say is that Lewis Hamilton has broken the rules several times this season and has never been punished for it.

  5. Regarding comment 23, note that after Alonso was punished for impeding Massa last year the FIA said that in the future only drivers who deliberately impeded other drivers would be punished.

    Alonso was punished in Hungary because he deliberately impeded Hamilton.

    Also remember what happened in qualifying yesterday occurred after I wrote the article above. But nevertheless I don’t think you can blame Hamilton for Raikkonen’s mistake.

    The incident was clearly different to what happened at the Hungary because Hamilton didn’t prevent Raikkonen from doing a lap.

    Nor did Hamilton ‘impede’ Raikkonen in the same way Alonso impeded Massa in the first example – both times Raikkonen approached him Hamilton stayed off the racing line and let him pass.

    I would have thought that the fact neither Raikkonen nor Ferrari appealed against Hamilton’s driving would be a pretty clear sign that what he did was within the rules. Especially as Ferrari would have known that, were Hamilton punished, he would have been moved back five places on the grid, which would help Raikkonen’s championship bid no end.

    Regarding comment 24, I think the only rule Hamilton has broken this year is the one about driving within five metres of the safety car. This happened in extraordinarily adverse safety conditions and the FIA have now changed the rule.

    I think it’s also worth noting that in the course of these comment the terms of the debate appear to have changed from ‘is there a McLaren conspiracy against Alonso’ to ‘is there an FIA conspiracy in favour of Hamilton’? Just an observation.

  6. It is also worth noting that the cause of all this debate is our lack of encyclopaedic knowledge of the rules (Keith and Alianora excepted, of course) and this is to be expected when the rulebook has become as extensive and complex as it is. Whilst accepting that F1 is a sport that requires precise definitions and clear distinctions, I have to say that the complications generated by years of fiddling with the rules have made things worse, not better. The FIA should give Alianora the job of completely re-writing the book in clear and simple terms that do not leave room for personal interpretation.

    As I said before, punish the rule!

  7. “Why would McLaren want to sabotage their own driver?” Agreed.

    And why would the McLaren boss say that they were against their own driver instead of Ferrari’s?

    McLaren is a falling kingdom ruled by a decrepit old man, that’s why. Wait for a surprise from ze Germans, they have payed most of the disaster.

  8. (About Hungaroring Q3)
    So, since that problem between Massa and Alonso, there is a established punishment… And he (Alonso) was obeying radio team orders, coz drivers can not know the time left… Did they know about that punishment(the team)? Did they do it in purpose?

  9. I think that’s pretty well covered in the stewards’ verdict.

  10. That means alonso lied!! At least to spanish media… (I can post the link to a spanish web site… but i think is useless!)

  11. No conspiracy?. Just think twice: It seems to me that, after all these draught years without an English F1 world champion, some Englishmen (media included) had a dream (actually a nightmare for anyone loving sports): For 2007 they envisioned the possibility of a Briton becoming a) the youngest F1 world champion ever, and b) the first rookie to win the world championship. And all this, riding a British (although German powered) car. The time was ripe, Hamilton was a raising star, but there was a little problem standing on the way to make this “legend” come true: Fernando Alonso. So, I think, these “dream-makers” tried to get control over the problem by hiring him. With Alonso outside the team they could not be certain they can beat him (as a mater of fact I think if this premise had been fulfilled Alonso would be, as of today, 3 times world champion), but inside the team they would be able of controlling him. To the despair of the “dream-makers” this season turned out very different of what they dreamed: even with all their might they were unable to make Alonso kneel down in order to make Hamilton a success. The words of Ron Dennis in China are proof enough of who Mclaren was fighting against: Alonso. No conspiracy?. Well, think twice. One of your bright Englishmen wrote: “when a fact leads you into a conclusion that might be chance; when two facts lead you in the same direction might be just a coincidence; but when three facts lead you in the same direction: that is a conspiracy” (this quote might not be in the exact words but, I believe, mantain the exact spirit meant by the author which –if memory does not betray me- was sir Arthur C. Clarke). There are not three but a far higher number of “irregularities” (facts) this season showing that the Briton received a favored treatment by FIA and Mclaren in detriment of Alonso. Even with that help, Hamilton was unsuccesful to win the championship (just got as many points as a Mclaren-hand-tied Alonso). My hat is off for Fernando´s bravery of not surrendering to self-appointed authority-abusers. Cheers, no sour feelings, just cellebrating the Bravery of a world champion.

  12. F1 is a 80% business and 20% sport. Starting from this premise is logical than McLaren tries to favour Lewis Hamilton because it better for the team from a business point of view. McLaren is a english team and they prefer a briton to win the championship than a spaniard which arrives to the team by a contract. On the other hand McLaren has invested many money in Lewis Hamilton and they want to recover its investment as soon as possible. Any company would do the same.

  13. I very much doubt the investment in terms of money Mclaren had in Hamilton all these years even comes close to the salary Alonso was paid this year. The only way to recover their investment, is for Hamilton to drive for free.

    Alonso’s Salary was Mclaren’s investment in him, like wise Ferrari invested in Kimi.

  14. The reason McLaren signed Alonso was because they did not expect Hamilton to do so well. Once they saw both Hamilton and Alonso had the equal chance to win the title, they wanted Hamilton to win it.

  15. This speculation is not about Alonso – Hamilton. Of course Hamilton was McLarens favourite boy to win the championship.

    What matters is that FIA conspiracy and deal made after espionage scandal. Propably McLaren was forced to sign statement, that they will not be allowed to win anything on season 2007. In order to avoid banning from F1, they acted as FIA wanted. This meant, no driver championship for Hamilton and Alonso either.

    So when 2 races were left, chances were gettin low. 17 point lead to next non-McLaren driver, how to deal that? Hamilton, who had great season so far(no mistakes), suddenly had to somehow be stopped so that no point were earned. Let’s make him retire in China by a rookie mistake by team, I don’t think so. Order was not to get points, or it will be goodbye to McLaren from F1.

    Then in Brazil, mysterious gearbox failure. Twice in same race ?? No, others just were so slow that Hamilton had to really work hard, not to get too many points.

    Also Alonso had to be careful, not to get too many points. He just managed it more disguised, because he was more experienced and propably not so rebellous as young Hamilton.

    Spectacular season ending, all mastered by Max and Bernie.
    I don’t think Raikkonen is very pleased either. Not earned the title the way he would have wanted. He knows there were two quicker driver than he was. So hunger for the first “real” championship title remains.

  16. ‘Max Bernie’ – I’ve heard some conspiracy theories but that takes the biscuit.

  17. max bernie……thats very funny…

  18. Mr Lewis, the best feeded on a british nest, Why doubt?

  19. Reading this in 2012, I can only think: “Oh my god, what a bunch of half-wits!”

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