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…

More on the Lewis Hamilton-Fernando Alonso rivalry

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

  1. Becken,

    it is disgusting how your comments change so dramatically when you post here (British blog) or in Spain (Briatore’s blog).

    Jean (and F1 Fanatic),

    what Fernando means with “normal” (although I am not sure either of translating this properly) is that the usual thing for a driver (especially for a rookie) is to make mistakes once in a while, even if you are a top driver in a top car (as we have plenty of cases this year); and that the unusual was what Lewis did last year (at the first half of two thirds of championship). I hope this clarifies the matter: for a Spaniard what he said in plain Spanish was not “a go” at all.

    I think this is the first time I post here despite I check your blog regularly: the depth and amount of information provided by you and many of the usual bloggers is overwhelming….I always wonder where do you take your time from for such a dedication! congratulations.

  2. Dan M said on 18th June 2008, 16:00

    I think its fair to say that Hamilton and Alonso were about equal when in the same car. So if Hamilton manages to get a few victories and Alonso is struggling to score, then yes, Hamilton was very lucky to start his career in a competitive car ( there was a lot of work to get there, but Mclaren could have had a down year- its lucky he started when they were competitive.)

    I think its great what Alonso said, there should be more little rivalries in F1, it would make the series more interesting “for sure”.

  3. Hi Juan,

    This is what I posted in Briatore´s BLOG:
    Becken // 16 Jun, 2008 – 11:14 pm
    Es muy interesante estas dos entrevistas de Fernando.
    En la primera, Spurgeon pregunta cuál es la diferencia del fin de 2006 para hoy y Fernando dijo que CONFIANZA. “La equipo hoy tiene menos CONFIANZA que en 2006.”

    El interesante é que Fernando no pierde una chance de dejar en duda su relación con la Renault para el futuro e dejar las puertas de la Ferrari abiertas e consecuentemente DESMOTIVAR su equipo…

    Yo no soy sicólogo, pero se esta es la mejor manera de MOTIVAR espiritualmente una equipo, dejando en duda se va a trabajar duro o no con ellos en el futuro, Fernando definitivamente es un genio en esto campo…
    Slds.

    TRANSLATION:

    (It is very interesting this two Fernando´s interviews.

    In the first one, Spurgeon questioned him about the difference between the team nowadays and in 2006: “The team has a lack of confidence comparing to 2006”, he said.

    Interestingly, Fernando never misses the chance to show some doubts about his future in Renault and leave the doors open in Ferrari and contribute to the “lack of confidence” of his team.

    I´m not a psychologist, but if this is a best way of how to MOTIVATE a team spirit, not reassuring that he will work hard with them, Fernando is definitely a genius in this field.

    Rgds)

    Conceptualy there’s no difference between any post. In fact there’s much guys in Briatore´s BLOG at this moment that goes hard in Fernando´s words.

    If someone wants to read:

    http://www.quiero-briatore-formula-1.com/las-horquillas-el-problema/16/06/2008/#comments

    (Sorry for that Keith, but the discussion in a Spanish forum could be interesting to show that Fernando´s fans at Spain have too much sense of critique than anyone think. They love Fernando, but know very well when his hero exceeds.)

  4. Garyc said on 18th June 2008, 19:19

    Comment to Jay: Remember 1996? A rookie won 4 races and finished second in the WDC. Name of Villeneuve. You had forgotten? I thought so. Lets wait a few years and see if it is appropriate to deify Lewis. BTW, JV won the WDC in 1997 and inspite of being Canadian, I would never consider him a top rank F1 driver.

  5. ninguen said on 18th June 2008, 20:01

    I wouldn´t dismiss so easy someone with one f1 championship under his belt. But he reached f1 after winning Indycar, not a piece of cake also.
    I think he was a driver that matured early and so he began his decline also early, there are some drivers that loses their touch somehow and they never recover, some for accidents, others the children, I don´t know, but there are a lot of people that did great things and somehow they ended being mediocre

  6. Sri said on 18th June 2008, 20:03

    @ Becken

    No offense mate, just heard this bit in the radio message to the team right after crash:
    “gearbox….”

    Now that can’t be Alonso’s error, though he did ran wide a couple of times and may have been referring to that, or making a comment about how he sees it fit to try and win it all, than to play it safe. Sometimes it doesn’t work out well, but hell.

  7. Hi Sri,

    Sorry, mate but Fernando admitted his mistake to CADENASER:

    “I’ve tried to change the line. You must to try different things to have a better grip in the reacceleration. I´ve touched the dirty part of the track and I missed it.”

    Fernando reassured that the mistake has nothing to do with the gearbox.

    http://www.cadenaser.com/deportes/articulo/fernando-alonso-tuvimos-error-horrible/csrcsrpor/20080608csrcsrdep_7/Tes

  8. Becken,

    you are a famous polemist in the other blog, and I am sure Keith does not want more of that here. I acknowledge that those points you mention were similar in both blogs, but that is not what I was refering to, but to my impression of the many times I have read you in (at least) a couple of British sites and the Spanish one I referred to. Normally (very) negative versus positive, respectively. But, as you mention, I am one of those Spaniards that know perfectly that Fernando made mistakes this and last year; yet, he is probably the best in the grid.

    Nice talking to you.

  9. SoLiD said on 18th June 2008, 21:19

    You have to read some things right.
    He isn’t saying Lewis is bad and such.

    Translation: This is more normal, making (rookie?) mistakes and have some bad luck. That he had 9podiums in a row needed some luck aswell.

    why rookie with a ? … well mistakes are mistakes, even schumi made “rookie” mistakes late in his carreer…

    anyway don’t have to read to much into things.

  10. Juan,

    We are in a British blog, I´m from Brazil you are from Spain. When you say NEGATIVE, you mean in fact that I don’t adulate my friends from Spain, including my friend Manuel who runs the Briatore´s BLOG, talking just about the nice points in Fernando´s attitude.

    I always read in any place what the guys from Spain writes about Lewis or Felipe, whom has the bravado to challenge Fernando too. I just let it be. But nobody can say any true about Fernando in an articulate way that you said it is NEGATIVE and react as you did: “disgusting…”

    By the way I love Briatore´s BLOG and the people whose comments in it and already wrote a guest post there:

    (http://www.quiero-briatore-formula-1.com/felipi-el-rey-de-espana/18/04/2008/).

    You call me famous polemist, but anything that you said contrary to the conventional wisdom will became a POLEMIC or a NEGATIVE point in Fernando´s case.

    Obviously Keith needs more constructive comments in his BLOG, but I think that he praises the free opinion too. And in this case, sorry, man, but you must to accept the contrary opinion in the same way that I read things about Felipe or Lewis and accept it.

    Regards

    (Keith, this is my last word about it, I promise!)

  11. frecon said on 18th June 2008, 22:26

    Jackie Stewart said recently something similar to Alonso.

    It was something like: Hamilton has been driving in F1 for 15 months and it’s normal he makes mistakes.

    I think is the same idea

  12. Loki said on 19th June 2008, 2:07

    What I do admire in Fernando Alonso, is that he will speak (or scapegoat) the team he’s in – now, even if he were in my team, and lets say it was a championship contender – that that leaves holes in my team that could potentially be filled. It’s a challenge, much as any other way in an F1 team.

    Yes, I can see the problems that what such a driver can say that will arise in public, but if you can instead address what his complaints, or moanings, are about and leave him nothing but to talk about himself (something I’m not entirely sure that McLaren did during his service, or some other McLaren drivers) then I always see room for improvement.

    I see drivers such as Coulthard, Raikonnen, Montoya as having done favours for McLaren by leaving, or forced to go elsewhere. It’s McLaren’s loss.

    And I think this is where McLaren falters – take away their subscription of both drivers are equal, the drivers have a squab instead – and it’s not like its been the first time its happened. I don’t think McLaren have that driver management down when you have to have 2 good drivers – clearly Ron Dennis can’t handle 2 competitive spirits at a time without forcing one driver into agony.

    Some say that Hamilton mirrors Senna, or tries to be (verbally and overtly), but I see more of Senna in Alonso, more on the track than off.

    All in all, I do NOT disagree with Alonso’s statement – but I do not agree with it entirely. What Hamilton done in his 1st season was nothing short of sensational, but I cannot help but think there was some element in luck of what he achieved [taking out the espionage fiasco]. His results, and “rookie errors” have shone through this season, when they really should have done this time last year.

    Hamilton’s not an interesting prospect, only in my opinion – he’s in a competitive team and car from the word “go”, he should have wrapped up the championship long before Brazil last year, I’m far more inclined to Kubica, Vettel, Bourdais, and Rosberg, who make far more interesting stories of having to build themselves rather than arrive at the podium off the cuff.

    In a way, I’m a lot more sceptical towards British press, media, and blogs (sorry Keith) because they generate so much hype, and prospectus, about their own drivers in F1 – and there’s always an excuse. Fernando IS NOT the model F1 champion – but then again, who IS? By singling Fernando Alonso against the British hope, Lewis Hamilton who has won nil F1 championships, is it any better than Alonso “taking swipes” at Lewis – at least he will say how he feels…something lacking the corporate modelled F1 driver of today.

    I’m probably of the old school frame of mind, but I see much more character, and championship deserverdness, in someone’s who’s had to build themselves all the way to the top – and has probably earned the right to arragoncy and self-indulgence (as much as I dislike those traits myself) as much as any other F1 champion.

    I really hope that Renault kick McLaren’s out of limelight this weekend. I don’t think it’ll happen, as McLaren will counter Renaults improvements (plus more), but this is why I keep watching. There’s always hope.

  13. Internet said on 19th June 2008, 8:59

    @Loki:

    “Hamilton’s not an interesting prospect, only in my opinion – he’s in a competitive team and car from the word “go”, he should have wrapped up the championship long before Brazil last year”

    That’s by far the most stupid thing I have read, anywhere. First of all, there were 3 other drivers in cars better than McLaren (Ferrari were slightly better last year) or equal to it.

    What does it say about a 2 x WDC (Alonso) or “the fastest man in F1″ (Kimi), when they can’t even get a susbstantial lead on Lewis with equal or better cars.

    Second of all, Kimi had it quite easy too. Got a drive at Sauber, got beaten by Heidfeld and still landed a McLaren seat. Where he failed to win anything. Though I don’t see anyone bitching about it.

    So before you start bashing Lewis for not winning anything yet, look at other drivers like Kimi who had a top drive for several years without winning a WDC.

  14. Loki said on 19th June 2008, 10:32

    Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have logged on after a few drinks, it came off as a bit agressive – but I still stand by the same overall opinion.

    Internet, you pointed out Kimi as well – another man who I didn’t find much in until he actually won (and even then it was a combo through Hamiltons/McLarens shortcomings). I worded things badly in the first post, perhaps insinuating you have to be a World Champion or else you’re nothing (some made the point about JV, which goes well with this), but there are more interesting paths in other drivers (to me). Granted Hamilton’s the British hopeful, and has a wide fan base internationally too…I guess I’m just not a fan.

    In a less obvious way, having a two times Champion as your arch rival is a good thing – for Hamilton that can spur him on to beat Alonso (not hard at the moment), and he can take comfort in the knowledge that a double World Champion feels threatened by him. I think it’s a great rivalry to be watching, and I can’t wait until they’re both in similarly competitive cars again.

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