Fernando Alonso takes a swipe at Lewis Hamilton over driving errors

Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, 2007, 470150

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…

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44 comments on Fernando Alonso takes a swipe at Lewis Hamilton over driving errors

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  1. Rabi said on 17th June 2008, 23:16

    I’m still interested in this time that Piquet set at Barcelona. There were rumours even at Montreal that Renault were bringing something in for Magny Cours/Silverstone surely they haven’t closed the gap already? And if they have could this be part of the mind games to wind up Lewis?

  2. frecon said on 17th June 2008, 23:27

    Alonso has amazing skills to drive fast, but the public relations is one of his weak points.

    Anyway, in this days of “i love everyone”, “i love the team”, is good have some drivers who give some fun out of the track.

    And this year withot Montoya, and Sato I need a driver who gives “something” in and out the track.

  3. I imagine he was asked a leading question by a journo looking for a story and answered it honestly.

  4. Sav722 said on 17th June 2008, 23:31

    I doubt Hamilton would have read Alonso’s comments.

    He’s the one with bigger problems, driving an uncompeitive car.

  5. jay said on 17th June 2008, 23:32

    i did laugh when alonso said that the 9 straight podiums where strange and down to luck.

    if that was luck then can hamilton do my lottery ticket this weekend!!

    it will only be in years to come when people realize how good hamilton was
    in his first year in f1 and i do not think that it will every be topped by any rookie driver.

  6. frecon said on 17th June 2008, 23:42

    to be fair, anybody can’t say the first 9 podiums were because of Hamilton, and China and Brazil were because of bad luck.

    And Hamilton did 9 podiums because of his skills, because of the car, and because of the luck. As every other driver who did 9 podiums in a row.

  7. Steve K said on 18th June 2008, 1:32

    Now can we get Lewis to respond by taking a shot at Alonso and Renault? Keep it up Fernando!

  8. Well, I believe the timing was rather good! That’s because the last time when LH was back in unfamiliar teritory, that is not between front runners, on the first laps, he hit the back of FA. I see it as a heads up for LH.

  9. MacademiaNut said on 18th June 2008, 4:44

    Can we say it’s all karma that for all you did last year, you don’t even have a chance of winning by being on an uncompetitive car?

    That’s stupid of Alonso to comment like this.

    I seriously hope that it’s the translation from spanish to english that’s causing this misunderstanding.

  10. Architrion said on 18th June 2008, 5:44

    The real thing is that the whining Alonzo should take care and do not say anything about our so beloved Hamilton-God, because he is on his way to 15 podiums in a row, as he made us know some time ago….

  11. peterg said on 18th June 2008, 6:41

    Wow, sour grapes……..Alonso (despite 2 WC’s) just does not have the maturity or judgement to know that it is often better to say nothing at all.

    This is just another back-handed compliment to a kid that does not even have two full seasons of F1 under his belt.

    If there is weakness in the brilliant talent that is Alonso it seems to be that he can “out-psyche” himself.

  12. Jean said on 18th June 2008, 7:37

    The best F1 fight we could ever be entertained with in the near future , IMHO , would be for Alonso to be in an equally competitive Renault to Hamilton’s McLaren , and I am holding fingers crossed that will happen. And to throw in the mix , that Ferrari and BMW will be there as well. That said , many people will not like Alonso’s comments too much , as Keith points out to “recycled PR Platitudes” etc. most drivers say what is perceived as being the “right thing” , I appreciate someone being a bit outspoken . Further to that , I’ve always felt McLaren used Alonso in a bad way. Whether it was planned to help springboard Lewis’ F1 career or not is another story for another day , but I cannot help imagining how alone Alonso felt at McLaren . Yet this year he is still driving a not so great car with great confidence , which for me shows more of his character as a driver than a few “mild” comments he makes. Imagine anyone being appointed in a high position , whopping big salary and all benefits etc., and at the same time , a young graduate without experience is placed alongside you , and starts to immediately be perceived as doing a better job ? I don’t deny Hamilton did not drive well and came out with all guns blazing , but reverting to my analogy above , any graduate directing an already successful corporation , alongside a successful director , would hardly be in a position to fail. I would like Alonso to stay at Renault and build the team up to a winning force , maybe something along the lines Schumacher did with Ferrari , even if not quite to such awful extremes.

  13. cyanide said on 18th June 2008, 7:58

    “If there is weakness in the brilliant talent that is Alonso it seems to be that he can “out-psyche” himself.”

    He’s probably one of the few who can talk the talk and still walk the walk in the same week, unlike our ‘hero’ here. Hamilton was exceptional during most of the last season, but we saw what happened to him under extreme pressure last year. He was leading the championship and managed to lose it because of his own doing. Compared to people like Hakkinen, Alonso, Schumacher or Raikkonen, he still has quite a long way to go. And I’d love to eat my words the day he wins his first championship.

    About Alonso, well, we need a character like him after Montoya left (someone who wins and can talk trash to his opponents).

  14. scottmcm said on 18th June 2008, 8:53

    Alonso is probably the most complete driver there is at the moment, and he really is not one to have his views “tempered” by a PR team. (remember the pitlane-gate press conference in Hungary last year?)

    It’s more than likely Lewis’ attitude and that sense of entitlement with out of place arrogance that has got under Alonso’s skin since day one at McLaren.

    He has nothing to lose with making a comment like this – which are true – and there is every possiblity it will unsettle Lewis. The two of them could well be banging wheels together in Mangy Cours!

    And in the bigger scheme of things, it would be great if other drivers were to speak their minds more often…

  15. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th June 2008, 9:09

    it would be great if other drivers were to speak their minds more often…

    I agree – it’s good to know they actually do have opinions about things. Some people gripe about Mark Webber having a lot to say but I think it’s good – I’d rather have a Webber in a press conference than a Raikkonen.

    But as ever, what I really want to hear from Alonso is his version of the events that transpired at McLaren last year, particularly at the Hungaroring.

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