These days interviews with drivers tend to be the same recycled PR platitudes over and over. ‘The team did a great job’. ‘The car was really good’. ‘We’re looking forward to the next race’. ‘For sure’. It’s unusual to hear one of them slagging off their rivals as Fernando Alonso has with Lewis Hamilton today:
The errors don’t surprise me. The results that were strange were the nine podiums in his first nine races last year – that required some element of luck, and wasn’t all down to the driver. This year is more normal.
What surprises me is not that Alonso has had a go at Hamilton – both of them did plenty of that last year – what’s peculiar is the timing.
OK, it’s a long way from the days when Alan Jones responded to Carlos Reutemann’s urging that the two should “bury the hatchet” with the memorable retort: “Yeah. In your ****ing back, mate.”
But Alonso had plenty to say last year about how he thought McLaren were treating him. And Hamilton said plenty back about Alonso, insisting the team had “bent over backwards” to make him welcome.
As we now know Alonso was considering leaving McLaren as early as March last year, it may have been that the two never got on from the very beginning.
When Alonso left McLaren for Renault everyone wondered whether the rivalry between the two would continue this year but, for the most part, it hasn’t. The Renaults and McLarens have rarely been fighting over the same piece of track.
And even on the one occasion they did collide, at Bahrain when Hamilton went into the back of Alonso, the Renault driver passed up the opportunity to give his old nemesis a public dressing-down. So why take up the cudgels on behalf of Kimi Raikkonen and have a go at Hamilton now?
It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to characterise this as a symptom of Alonso’s growing sense of frustration. He’s stuck in a car that can’t challenge for wins. He’s been at odds with his team over strategy in the last two races where they’re opted for conservatism over taking risks to win. He publicly criticised them after Montreal for not following his choice of tactics which he felt cost them a win.
If he hasn’t got the Ferrari contract for 2010 that many people reckon he has then he faces being stuck with Renault for a while – BMW seem content with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, and he has burned his bridge with the other top three team, McLaren. So he’s lashing out at the man he feels is responsible for his dilemma.
Alternatively, maybe he just couldn’t resist kicking Hamilton when he’s down. And as the two are likely to meet on track at Magny-Cours this weekend as Hamilton tries to recover from his lowly starting position, he’s getting an early start on the mind games.
Either way, expect fireworks if these two happen across each other on Sunday…
More on the Lewis Hamilton-Fernando Alonso rivalry
- Alonso denies blame for Hamilton crash
- F1 news review: Alonso looked at Renault move in March
- Alonso unconcerned by racist abuse of Hamilton
- F1 07 review: Some drivers are more equal than others
- F1 07 review: Hamilton vs Alonso
- Alonso continues attacks on McLaren and Hamilton
- Alonso and Hamilton want split
- The stewards’ full verdict on McLaren and Alonso
- Outrage over McLaren ‘team orders’