Fernando Alonso criticises McLaren again

2008 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso has continued his criticism of former team McLaren

Fernando Alonso has continued his criticism of former team McLaren

Fernando Alonso has sparked fresh debate about his controversial season with McLaren last year by making several critical remarks about the team in recent interviews.

I think he’s starting to sound a bit like Niki Lauda and David Coulthard…

Alonso on McLaren

Before the Hungarian Grand Prix Alonso told the press:

Last year again it is true that I had a possibility to fight for the championship and it was okay. I knew that this year it was not possible any more. But if I was racing for McLaren now at this moment maybe I would be in the same position as I am now without the possibility to win.

Alonso seems to be saying that although he was allowed to race Hamilton for the championship last year, he does not believe Heikki Kovalainen is allowed to this year. This is something McLaren have denied since Kovalainen joined the team.

Dennis on equality

When asked about Alonso’s latest remarks, McLaren boss Ron Dennis said:

You can’t see any strings leading to Heikki’s shoulders and he’s an honest guy. He will more than convince anyone who talks to him that this is a team absolutely committed to equality. It always has been, and it always will be.

People will point to the [2008 German] Grand Prix and say it’s absolutely obvious there were team orders in that event because it was clear that Heikki moved over and let Lewis past. The essential fact was that throughout that race Lewis was nearly seven-tenths of a second faster than Heikki and he knew that, he was told that. He was not told to let Lewis past.

But when you are in a team and you know that your teammate has the opportunity of winning the race and you don’t, if you have the right values and values that are not lodged solely and exclusively in your own motives, your own objectives and your own selfishness, then you take a decision. Which is allow the driver past to have a chance of winning the race – which he did.

The exchange of positions between Kovalainen and Hamilton was no different to BMW’s switch between Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica in Canada. And it differed only in execution to how Ferrari got Kimi Raikkonen ahead of Felipe Massa in Brazil last year.

Non-disclosure agreement

Dennis also pointed out there was a non-disclosure clause involved when Alonso’s contract was terminated:

When the contract with Fernando was terminated there were pre-conditions which determined the behaviour of both parties post-termination. We have no intention of breaching that agreement. His opinion is his opinion – I’m not going to voice my opinion about anything that Fernando has done or said.

Personality clash

Both Dennis and Alonso presumably have more to reveal about the events of the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix (discussed at length here last week). But Dennis also had this to say:

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. You could go back through the entire history of McLaren, you could talk to any driver that has driven for McLaren and you will not find anyone – save for one – who will not verify that this team always runs on the basis of equality and always will.

Mechanical equality is one thing but what is different – and what I think Alonso has been trying to explain, not always successfully – is personal preference. And past McLaren drivers other than Alonso have said that Ron Dennis has preferred other drivers over them – such as David Coulthard in his autobiography: “It is what it is”:

Over the forthcoming seasons [after he joined in 1996] I gradually started to sense the tinge of favouritism was actually becoming far more tangible, untl it was clear – to me – that Ron blatantly favoured Mika. That’s not a subjective favouritism, as in he preferred Mika socialism; I am talking about professionally, on the track, in testing, at the headquarters.

Dennis had a clear affection for Hakkinen rooted in the Finnish driver’s near-fatal crash at Adelaide in 1995. And it doesn’t take a great stretch of imagination to see how Dennis would have a particular affection towards Hamilton – his pet project – rather than Alonso.

Nor were Alonso or Coulthard the first drivers to fall out with Ron Dennis. This is Niki Lauda in his autobiography “To hell and back”, on being injured in a crash during practice at Belgium in 1985:

Ron Dennis reacts just the way I would expect him to. As if I had been daydreaming and simply let the car go. There is one consolation – I won’t have to put up with Ron all that much longer.

Firing Alonso

Although Alonso and Dennis have had little of substance to say some new details about what happened at Hungary last year have slipped out. In a recent article for Autocar Alan Henry claimed:

McLaren sources have since revealed that the Spanish driver was almost fired on the spot after deliberately blocking Hamilton during qualifying for the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix.

So why didn’t they fire him? Perhaps there was pressure from the sponsors. Perhaps after Alonso threatened to reveal what he knew about the espionage scandal McLaren thought firing him would look like he’d been dismissed for ratting on them.

Fourths and fifths

The problem is the longer someone waits between something happening and then telling everyone about it, the less reliable their account is likely to be. It seems to be happening already. Asked during a radio interview for Cadena Ser whether he would rather be fourth with Renault or second with McLaren, Alonso said:

Yeah, yeah. I don’t think I would have been second with McLaren. I’m [saying that] based on the last few races of the past season, when I was finishing fourth and fifth.

Which leads to an obvious question: when did all these fourth and fifth place finishes with McLaren happen? Here is his complete finishing record for 2007:

2-1-5-3-1-7-2-7-2-1-4-3-1-3-Crash-2-3

Alonso will presumably continue to take pot-shots at McLaren until his non-disclosure agreement runs out (whenever that may be).

But I still don’t believe he had inferior equipment to Hamilton last year. More likely, just as Dennis preferred Prost to Lauda, and Hakkinen to Coulthard, Alonso probably found Dennis was more interested in his protege Hamilton. That, combined with how close Hamilton was running him on the track, instilled a certain level of paranoia in him.

What do you make of Alonso’s latest remarks?

More on Alonso and McLaren

57 comments on “Fernando Alonso criticises McLaren again”

  1. Scott Joslin
    6th August 2008, 11:51

    Great analysis here Keith, and a well rounded article! I think Alonso’s autobiography will be an interesting one when he gets round to it. Time certainly blurs reality. I do think there is an underlying point that comes from this quotes, being that some people just don’t get on with Ron Dennis, and when they don’t they seem to get along they get the the cold shoulder treatment from him – whether in reality Ron’s personality effect Mclaren’s poilcy of complete equality remains to be seen.

  2. Jealous and bitter, by the sounds of it. He’ll move on eventually though, maybe.

  3. It’s easier to complain about unfairness than accepting he couldn’t beat a rookie. If you have a look at Lewis pass Heikki it certainly looks like he let him pass, but if you look at Massa’s overtake, it looks really easy too.

    You can’t complain on letting pass your team mate which is 1s faster than you when his rival Ferrari couldn’t even hold Lewis for a lap. He just had a superior pace during all the weekend.

    I suppose Fisichella never let pass mister 6 tenths.

  4. Hi:
    Here we have the new upside down, i don’t know were they got the information, but the headline is:
    Hamilton sobre Alonso: “Este año no hay un lastre en el equipo”
    Hamilton about Alonso: ” this year we don’t have a burden in the team” more or less…
    http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/404483/0/hamilton/laste/alonso/

  5. Yeah, yeah. I don’t think I would have been second with McLaren. I’m [saying that] based on the last few qualifications…and the races aswell…. of the past season, when I was finishing fourth and fifth.

    That´s exactly what he said, with the pauses aswell. I just heard the interview in http://www.cadenaser.com/el-larguero/fonoteca/. I think he wanted to say that he had a bad performance because of poor qualis with a worse car (dont forget the controversy of mistakes with the tyres presure, tyres warmth) although he follows the sentence giving the impresion that he really finished 4th and 5th in those races.

    For sure (this is pretty of him) he has not been capable of being accurate, not to forget he was for a short time world champion during the last race, and to be honest (he sounds during the interview very comfortable and relaxed), I`m not sure if this “slip of the tongue” has been done in purpouse or not.

    It sounded to me like a prematch declaration Barça-Madrid, which always finishes like a media misunderstood.

    That is to me either to sound like NL and DC or to feed the press whith a break without any news, wich is almost the same.

  6. perhaps the 4ths and ths he meant were in qualifying … (I haven’t checked yet)

    although Alonso for sure has his share of blame on how the things shaped up in McLaren, I do believe that the main reason behind all the troubles is McLaren’s mismanagement of their drivers … why so many drivers who leave McLaren feel so liberated – besides those you named here add Montoya, Raikkonen (and they do not complain about not having equal equipment)…

    can’t the problem be that the only person in the team who believes that the drivers are treated equally is Dennis himself ? Dennis also believed that no one in McLaren knows anything about the 780 page Ferrari file …

    McLaren are great team, they build great cars almost every year, but when was the last time they won any title …

  7. Paul Sainsbury
    6th August 2008, 13:02

    It is a shame to hear the repeated comments of Fernando, but not surprising. He is a proud man and used to compehensively beating his team-mates. It was unthinkable he would be out-driven by a rookie and he just couldn’t take it, and it seems he still can’t.

  8. What sounds strange to me is that the Fourths and fifths part of this good article ( may I call it like that) is based in the Autosports article

    Alonso expects no big leap from Renault
    By Pablo Elizalde

    and this Pablo sounds spanish speaking to me, so having a good opinion of that web page, I do not understand how this chap “forgot” the qualis part of the answer, because the translation to English is pretty good, supousing he wanted to translate the whole sentences as they always does. The rest of the sentences are literaly like the interview, with pauses aswell. Also he put in brakets what Alonso wanted to say, showing a good understanding of the Spanish.

    Maybe he wanted to reflect what his impresion was about the Fourths and fifths….. not leaving anything to speculation , because this is the only part that can be call “objective” of the whole interview.

  9. Well I am not sure that Fernando is talking about Heikki’s situation as much as himself’s one on an hipothetycal second year at McLaren.

    Anyway, I think Ron shouldn’t boast about equality when Hamilton was given 8 flying laps last year, when Fernando was given 2. Or after saying “we were racing Fernando” when they should have been racing Kimi.

    About the Hungaroing thing. I repeat what I said: McLaren could enlighten this mess publishing team radio records. Anything but that are just interested opinions, and it’s hard not to give more credibility to one of the parts based on personal preference.

  10. Team bosses are not generally (ever?) nice people. Does anyone remember a bloke called Enzo? Finding ex-drivers who dislike a given manager is not difficult and is not proof of that driver having been given inferior machinery. Not even close.

    Isn’t it strange that so many of the drivers quoted as being anti-Ron are also the drivers that got beat by their team-mate? Coincidence, yeah right.

    This is getting tiring though, how long will Alonso keep whining about excuses for how Hamilton beat him? His only chance of recovering his reputation is to beg/borrow/steal a drive at Ferrari, hope they make a better car than Mclaren and then challenge Lewis. After all he’s proven that he needs more than equal machinery to beat him.

    Poor Fernando. In the coming years we will realise just what he was up against in 2007 by having to drive against Hamilton in equal machinery. Maybe one day he will as well.

  11. For me he’s starting to sound a bit like Villeneuve or Montoya…

  12. It’s about time Fernando move on, it’s doing him no good going over 2007. No one can turn back the clock, even if we wanted too. He is two time world champion, no one can take that away from him. He should act with class and dignity. Many say he is a complete driver, but I have my doubts. In my mind you should be complete on and off the track. Off the track Fernando is left wanting. Do your self a favour Fernando and keep quiet.

  13. A large bag of sour grapes, from a brilliant driver, who remains blind to his own shortcomings.

  14. Sorry Phil, but giving the same machinery it’s not the same that proclaiming perfect equality. I don’t buy the conspiranoic theory about Fernando’s car being doctored at the end of last season, but I don’t also think they were given equal opportunities.

    Also, reading you it seems that Lewis blew off Fernando on the track. Sorry guy, but that didn’t happen. There was a draw and lot of things happened to say that Lewis beat Fernando fair and square. A draw was still impressive being Lewis a rookie(not a very young one must be said), but a draw after all.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Lewis Hamilton is the best that could happen to this sport(I don’t like the guy, though). His ups are spectacular(and also his lows), but he still has to show that he is the best driver, specially better than Fernando. He has more room for improvement, but he still hasn’t improved a lot.

  15. Sad to hear Fernando complain yet again. No doubt he’s a genious behind the wheel but it seems to me like he’s still making excuses for being matched and sometimes even beaten by a rookie team mate.

  16. Captain Caveman
    6th August 2008, 15:22

    One thing that still amazes me is that, many of us overlook the obvious in that there is a distinct difference between revisiting old ground by Alonso or simply replying to a question posed by an interviewer.

    I had half expected this just after Hungary, as it was the effective anniversary of what occurred last year. Give it a few weeks and it will be overlooked up until the next occasion that Alonso and Lewis are wheel to wheel.

    The funny thing is that you look at many French and Italian articles and there is no real reference to such things ( at least to same extent as UK and Spain).

    So the real question is, is it an issue of Alonso’s inability to let go? Or the medias hunger to find out what really happened some 12 months ago. For me it is the latter, once the truth is known it will put all of this non racing story to bed. (whomever was at fault)

  17. Alonso is a great driver, but he comes across as very bitter.

    He’s ego is clearly massive, having a young rookie more or less match him got on his nerves. My heart bleeds.

  18. Samuel: “There was a draw”

    Er, no, I’m afraid there wasn’t. This one is easy to prove, simply check here: http://www.formula1.com/results/driver/2007/ and you’ll see that Lewis is 2nd and Fernando is 3rd. That is not a draw and that is the official result from the official F1 website. I hope we can at least agree on that.

    Now, couple this with little factors such as Lewis not having driven most of the circuits in an F1 car before the weekends started and you may begin to understand the magnitude of what happened to Fernando last year. He was beaten, fair and square, by a rookie. Hamilton does not have anything to prove with Fernando ever again. Kimi? Perhaps. Kubica? Certainly. Not Alonso.

    Can and should Hamilton improve further? Yes, absolutely and I think he will, that is why I say in the coming years we will realise what Fernando was up against in 2007.

  19. I wish people would stop going on about Alonso getting beaten by a rookie (like he should be ashamed), then go on to say Lewis is one of the greatest.

    If he’s one of the greatest it isn’t such a big thing that Alonso got beat surely?

    Regardless they did get equal points at the end of the season, so I wouldn’t call that beaten fair and square, rookie or not.

    Being a rookie doesn’t mean you are awarded extra points in my mind. It seems that that isn’t the case for other people though.

  20. “I wish people would stop going on about Alonso getting beaten by a rookie”

    They are pesky these little facts aren’t they?

    “they did get equal points at the end of the season, I wouldn’t call that beaten fair and square”

    OK, unfortunately the FIA disagree but hey ho.

    You don’t get awarded extra ‘rookie’ points that is true, otherwise the sport would be a farce and you wouldn’t be able to claim this “equal points = draw” rubbish regarding 2007. It is, however, generally more impressive to achieve something in your rookie year than in later years. That is why people keep mentioning it.

  21. Gosh, for once Keith, I have to commend you for a balanced and accurate take on things. Yes, I think both drivers have absolutely equal equipment and chance to win races, but as Ron is a human being, he has his preferences of character. Alonso had his nose put out of joint because he wasn’t the favourite with the boss. Well boo hoo, I think I would have preferred Lewis too, than that sulky prima donna who didn’t like to lose to a rookie. I am now officially a huge LH fan, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t see that Ron probably preferred Lewey as a person and driver to Alonso, but who could blame him? I get the impression that Ron is trying his best to welcome Heikki to the team and treat him the same as Lewis as him and Whitmarsh are continually making positive noises about him. I hope that doesn’t end up impeding the man who has most chance, Lewis, in getting the title this year. And it is probably easier to like Heikki than Alonso anyway.

    The others who have moaned about Ron in the past were probably the ones that Ron didn’t like as much also, but you never hear a complaint about lack of equal equipment.

    If you see the way Briatore treated Kovaleinen last year, and how I bet Nelson Piquet is treated this year as the DEFINITE non-favourite, I find it quite amusing that no-one is calling him for it. It seems on forums and the F1 media that McLaren, Ron Dennis and Lewis are in the firing line all the time for things other teams and drivers do, but other teams and drivers just are not scrutinised and criticised in the same way. Well if that is the result of being the most professional, exciting and brilliant things in F1 today, I suppose it’s worth it.

    But thanks for a good take on the situation. I just wish Alonso would shut his mouth and move away to Outer Mongolia or somewhere similarly distant.

  22. Phil B,

    In my view, champions are those who can win against all odds. I most certainly believe that Lewis is an unbelievably supremely talented driver. One, who by the end of his career, has in him to be remembered as the greatest but…….hes gotta do it first.

    Winning is great. From the front does the job aswell. But its when you win against adversity, when your back is against the ropes, thats what really matters. I’m not saying that Lewis can’t do that, he certainly can. But till now, whenever hes started low down, he hasnt really climbed up too much. Compared to what?? in recent memory: Suzuka 2005

    Seeing Lewis’s three-pit stop drive in Turkey was proof enough that he certainly has it in him to achieve such feats. He did not win there, but that was an amazing exhibition of his talent and character.

    In comparison to Alonso. Well, Fernando is a double world champion. So no comparison for now.

  23. Phil B. Please, calm yourself. Should I call you “troll”?

  24. Samuel, I actually think if it wasn’t for Alonso’s whining, asking for supervisors, shopping his team to the FIA, etc, last year, Lewis would have won the title fair and square. As it was, Kimi was handed it by the poor decisions of the team caused by the Alonso distractions.

    I would love to see Alonso in a Ferrari and to see Lewis crush his sorry ass (that’s if he didn’t go to Outer Mongolia which I would still prefer).

  25. Robert Mckay
    6th August 2008, 16:45

    I think Alonso should change the record and quit whining. It’s a bit embarrassing for a double world champion, to be honest.

  26. Phil, I understand Lewis was 2nd, and Fernando was 3rd. I knew that. But ending with the same points or even with a little difference for me is a draw, or at least I would not say that a driver beat the other “fair and square”.

    What I recall about last year is two drivers very closely matched. I don’t remember Lewis nor Fernando being as much as 1sec faster than the other, while Lewis has been that faster than Heikki this year. Here you are a comparison between them race by race. I don’t recall every race, but it somewhat agrees with what I remember.

    Your point about Lewis not knowing some circuits its valid. But also is that he had some advantages at qualifying, and there were some questionable decissions by the FIA (Hungary could have given up to 7 points for Alonso compared with Hamilton) so I found hard to say that any of the three maximum scorers was much better than any of the other both(I’m not saying that Kimi did not deserve the title).

  27. And Hamilton had raced two years with what Bridgestones says that its a racing tyre, while Fernando was fully smashing those pretty good Michelin tyres.

  28. So apparently, by Ron Dennis’ own admission, Lewis doesn’t have “the right values and values that are not lodged solely and exclusively in your own motives, your own objectives and your own selfishness”, given how he refused to let Alonso get past him during qualifying in Hungary or during the race at Indianapolis, when Alonso was clearly much faster than him.

    As far as his statement that “you could talk to any driver that has driven for McLaren and you will not find anyone – save for one – who will not verify that this team always runs on the basis of equality”, we should ask Montoya, Coulthard or Prost what they think about that. I have a feeling they might not fully agree.

    I can appreciate how McLaren may try to provide similar treatment to both drivers, but the fact of the matter is that perfect equality is simply just not possible. And Ron knows it full well.

  29. Samuel, my use of the phrase ‘fair and square’ was meant to convey that the result was achieved without resorting to nefarious means. In this case I beleive it is appropriate. It was not a comment on the magnitude of the victory.

    With regards to your point about them being closely matched: I actually agree. I did not say that Lewis trounced Alonso, nor demolished him. I simply said that he beat him. The difference was very very small but nonetheless it does exist and it is in Lewis’ favour.

    As to which of the 3 were MUCH better than the others? Well that is to delve into the depths of a semantic argument that I will avoid, we will only end up arguing about how much is much. What is obvious is that Kimi (in different machinery) beat Lewis who in turn (in the same machinery) beat Alonso. What I read from this is that the Lewis/Kimi comparison is the only still unanswered.

    Regardless, I think we can agree that the chances of seeing Lewis and Fernando in the same team again for a re-match are slim to none.

  30. Hasn´t Lewis raced with this TYRES in GP2 and Formula Renault?… C´mon, Archy. In GP2 we have SLICK TYRES, what completely flaw this theory…

    Just look what the drivers have said about the difference of Bridgestone slick tyres to the current tyres on pre tests to 2009 season. The cars seem mucho more drivable and under control in curves than the current ones…

    What could be worst? Adapt a driving style to a different tyre but with the same concept in his manufacturing (Michelin to Bridgestone in Formula 1) or adapt a driving style to a completely different tyre, aerodynamics characteristics (much more instable and nervous!), horse power, tyre, car load, brake power etc?

    I think it is easy to answer…

  31. michael counsell
    6th August 2008, 18:03

    No doubt Alonso enjoyed finishing 4th ahead of Hamilton’s 5th.

  32. Another Alonso comment from the radio interview that makes no sense:

    “…Next year there could be changes, but I’ve never seen a car that’s fighting at the back one year then sweep the field the next”

    2006 McLaren MP4-21: 110 constructor points, 0 wins, 9 podiums.

    2007 McLaren MP4-22: 203-218 theoretical constructor points, 8 wins, 24 podiums.

    And that season had a change to Bridgestones that should have *hurt* McLaren

  33. The thing that bothers me is that this argument is about McLaren not being equal where I think Alonso’s problem was with McLaren being equal. Alonso did not want equality, he wanted to have preferential treatment.

    I don’t see how equality in a team can be achieved when you have two drivers that are evenly matched and spiting hairs every race. Somebody has got to get the better race strategy and Hamilton was the one that Ron liked more. It makes perfect sense, almost all of it. Alonso’s frustration is justified, Ron Denis is justified (it’s his team, he had to pick one), and Hamilton was just doing his “job” . What really added to the heat was the espionage scandal.

    Also it was news to me that there is a rumor that Alonso could have been fired on the spot at Hungary. That would justify his threats towards Ron and McL.

  34. Brendan, Alonso’s comment makes perfect sense in the context of the example you provided.

    In 2006, McLaren ended in third place in the constructor’s championship, scorede points in every race save for Indianapolis and, as you said, earned 9 podium finishes.

    I would argue that, while surely not up to McLaren standards, that kind of performance hardly qualifies as “fighting at the back”.

  35. Becken, I think it’s more difficult to switch from Michelins to Bridgestones than to change between current dry tyres and slick tyres, both of them of the same manufacturer. I’ve read that what makes the difference is how the flank of the tyre is constructed, being a crucial factor of how much twist the tyre can support. Bridgestones can’t support as much twisting as the Michelins. You could see drivers like Webber, Alonso, Kubica and others hard turners struggling through the whole season to make their drivings softer. Hami simply found that the grip limit was closer and blurred.

  36. Ahh well… this whole sad saga makes me think of Juan Pablo Montoya’s sudden exit from McLaren. It seems to me we will never really no what and why and how in many of these cases until autobiographies from all the relevant parties are published… and even still some reading between the lines will no doubt be needed.

    p.s – great article Keith

  37. I think we can all agree that if not for the last two races of last year, Lewis Hamilton would have been the 2007 F1 WDC. He was 14 points ahead of Alonso and 19 points ahead of Raikkonen going into Shanghai, indicating a clear gap in performance and consistency between Lewis and the other two over the entirety of the season up to that point. I think Hamilton was clearly faster than Alonso the whole year, scoring 6 poles to Alonso’s 2. As experts such as Peter Windsor have noted, Hamilton definitely handled the McLaren and the Bridgestone Control tires better than Alonso, who did not do an adequate job of adjusting his driving style to life without the grippy Renault front end and the Michelin Sticky tires.

    Who is the better driver? I personally think that Lewis is naturally quicker and has a preferable driving style, with an “smoothly aggressive” corner entry, linear braking, smooth steering input, and linear throttle application on exit. Alonso is harsh with the car, aggressively entering with a late turn-in and harshly applying braking, shifting, and steering inputs, effectively slinging the car through the corner. Alonso will be faster through the apex, but Hamilton will be faster on exit. I do think both drivers have equal car control skills, both of which having some of the very best that Formula 1 has ever seen, and both are very good in the wet. The advantage that Alonso does have over Hamilton at this point is his skill as a car developer, but this comes with experience and application, and there’s no reason why Hamilton can develop this skill to be on par with Alonso.

  38. Paige – Didn’t Raikkonen, Massa and Alonso have any mechanical issues, crashes etc. that cost them points in the season too? To speculate about the last two races costing Hamilton the championship is pointless (pun intended). Using this reasoning, I could argue that the only reason Hamilton was in front going into China was because of Kimi, Fred and Phil’s problems earlier in the season.

    A point about Alonso’s whining. Does anyone care to remember that he’s not ringing the press to make these statements. He is answering questions put to him by journalists. Sure, he could reply with “I’m not going to answer that”, but then he would just be tarred with the arrogant brush, same as Schumi was. He says these things because he is asked repeatedly about the events in 2007. Understandable from my point of view that he would start making inaccurate answers after being asked for probably the thousandth time. Let’s take this into account please.

  39. You people are never happy ! You complain that Kimi is monosybillic and never says anything interesting, yet complain when Alonso or Webber or DC does !

    I think it’s fair to say that no matter what Alonso says or doesn’t say about McLaren/Ron Dennis/Lewis Hamilton he will be pilloried by the British press.
    And (mostly) so ad hominem.

    And let’s just remember, shall we, who complained FIRST about equality at McLaren? A certain comment at Monaco springs to mind…..
    Funny how that gets forgotten in all of the maelstrom.

  40. I think seeing Kovalainen win in Hungary reminded Alonso of last year, and that that could have been him if he had stayed at McLaren.
    I personally think that he regrets leaving McLaren on the grounds that the car was so good last year, and pretty handy this year, for a team that is far from its best. For one moment, I don’t believe he misses Ron Dennis or Lewis Hamilton, but he misses the car and the ability to challenge for race wins.
    Kovalainen benefitted hugely from last year’s episode with Alonso, and the relationship he has with McLaren is starting to bear fruit.
    From the outside, McLaren look far more relaxed than they have for years, probably since the days of Mika Hakkinen. There is a balance there, an understanding.
    If Alonso could have done what Raikkonen did, and leave McLaren for Ferrari last year, he would have been as happy as a pig in his own slop. He would have the car he desired, and the opportunity to ‘suck it’ to Ron Dennis and his protege.
    That is not going to happen in a Renault or a Honda, not for a while atleast.
    If I was Alonso, I would try to remind people about the positives and not the negatives. Last year is history, it doesn’t matter anymore, not if he wants to be a three time world champion it doesn’t!

  41. Toby,

    I disagree with your premise. Raikkonen had only two non-points finishes all year (Spain, Nurburgring) going into Shanghai, and Alonso had only one (Fuji), the same as Hamilton (Nurb). Raikkonen’s non-points finish at Spain was due to suspension, and his nonpoints finish at Nurb was due to hydraulics. Hamilton had the wheel gun failure in qualifying and the tire puncture on the first lap at Nurb. Alonso just screwed up at Fuji. So in terms of problems and bad finishes, the three drivers were pretty much square. Given this, Hamilton plain outperformed the other two throughout the season heading into Shanghai.

  42. Honestly, I was a huge Alonso fan in his winning days. He was the one to de-throne Schumacher in his peak form, and showing much flair and skills on the track.

    But all my respect for Fernando was lost the moment he quit Renault looking for “a new challenge”. Is that how you repay your team after winning 2 titles? So much for building a winning team around you.

    Then at McLaren when he couldn’t cope with being beaten by a rookie, all hell broke loose. Instead of earning the respect from McLaren, he thinks respect is granted with his 2 titles, and that is just wrong. If I were Ron Dennis, having known countless talented drivers, I’d do the same because drivers don’t just drive the car fast, he needs to lead the team, or at least nurture a good working atmosphere.

    And my lost of respect for Fernando doesn’t end even now. Look at how he now publicly critisize Renault when they’re down, and looking for other drives in not-so-discretely manner.

    If he goes to Ferrari, it’s music to my ears. I’ll be looking forward to see Massa consistently beating him, then Fernando throws all his toys around to wreck the Red team. If I am boss of Ferrari, I’d much rather sign Kubica than Fernando.

  43. Comon guys, Hamilton is my fav driver now, but he has only beaten Alonso once, and that’s not the end of the world for Alonso.

    Do you rate Vilneuve better than Hill or Senna better than Prost just beacuse they beat their teammate once?

    Heidfield beat both Ferrari dirvers Raikkenon and Massa in the same team. I guess Ferrari is kinda dump to not sign Heidfield huh? On the other hand Webber had beaten Heidfield, so with the same equipment Webber could have beaten Raikkenon for the title in 07 right?

    Although Alonso has done nothing spectacular this season, he is still quite young and has a lot of chances to prove he is the better than Hamilton. Let’s wait til the ends of their careers and we will have a clearer picture.

  44. Is there a reason for Alonso to suddenly start taking pot-shots at Big Ron again? Maybe both Ferrari and Honda have refused to take him on in the future and yet again he is blaming McLaren for his ill fortune? Or is he just bored with nothing else to do? (Such as help make the Renault a better car or support his team-mate).
    Of course there are many reasons why certain members in a team get more support than others – you wouldn’t think it unnatural in soccer or cricket would you? So why all this baloney about what happens in a racing team?
    Pay attention to the current BTCC races – and especially the top teams SEAT and Vauxhall – they both have a definite team leader out of 3 cars each, but the other drivers have as much chance of winning races and winning the championship as the leader. Are you all saying that the same thing isn’t happening in GP2 and F1 as well? This isn’t team politics, this is the reality of racing….
    As for the comments about Ron’s style of leadership – I agree its about time we picked up on how the likes of Jean Todt, Flavio Briatore and Frank Williams have treated their drivers in the past (including World Champions).
    Also #42 Freeman – that is what I think about him too, he is in danger of losing it big time at Ferrari, and they will just drop him if he doesn’t say and do the right things.
    And I have to comment on #6 Milos ‘McLaren are great team, they build great cars almost every year, but when was the last time they won any title …’ – ahem! Please check your history books and you will find that there was a whole decade when Mclaren and Willims were thoroughly beating the red cars, with McLaren usually beating Williams! (Apart from the years when they dominated the Indy 500, Can-Am racing and
    Le Mans of course!)

  45. Samuel: “McLaren could enlighten this mess publishing team radio records.” I agree and I think it’s a good example why the teams should be forced to make all of their radio transmissions public.

    S Hughes: “I bet Nelson Piquet is treated this year as the DEFINITE non-favourite, I find it quite amusing that no-one is calling him for it.” Good point. I don’t thik Kovalainen’s given a single interview this year when he hasn’t been asked about his status at McLaren, yet no-one seems to bother asking Piquet.

    Architron (23) – Can we not resort to name-calling please I don’t want to have to start deleting comments.

    Comment from Marc moved here: Massa loses Hungary win to Kovalainen (2008 Hungarian Grand Prix review

    Pink Peril – “You people are never happy! You complain that Kimi is monosybillic and never says anything interesting, yet complain when Alonso or Webber or DC does!” – I’d always far rather have drivers like Alonso and Webber speaking their minds.

  46. As many have already said the journalist keep on asking the same questions once and once again and Fred is just answering. Of course he could keep his mouth shout but, he is just not the kind :-).

    RD saying that FA was the only MCL driver that ever complained about equal treatment is a huge short-memory exercise, so what MO, DC, Prost or Senna were doing??? He keeps on saying the same thing but is just not possible to offer perfect equal treatment as there is always a better moment to enter the pit, to go for a last shot in Q3…. Not to mention that different drivers may have different interests as they have different strong and weak points (this is valid for the race strategy but also for the development of the car).

  47. It seems the best racing is when u read about it. Another great article, Keith.

    *Alonso needs to quit this, and move on, he must stop sounding bitter every time he talks.

    *Alonso and Hamilton where fighting for 1st and 2nd position at the US GP so no one needed to give way to the other.

    *Heikki wasn’t asked to move over, he did it on his own. The team appreciated the unselfish gesture, and he knew his race was not compromised by having him queue behind Lewis.

    *If Heikki had held raced Lewis for too long, Lewis may have been forced to make the pass, which would have worn out his tyres, resulted in a collision, or maybe allow heildfield to exit the pits ahead of him, thus making it difficut for him to win that race.
    Thus, Mclaren won 14 points instead of maybe 7 or 11. And moved closer to Ferrari in the constructors champoinship.
    Thats working for the team, not yourself. If you win the drivers champoinship and your team comes 5th in constructors championship, you gain, but your team loses.

  48. Poor Kovi, I thought he was a real racer, surely no wining team will now want him as number 1 driver. He didn’t even hold Lewis for a single lap with the same car. Whether he received team orders or he is a no-wining guy.
    As for Ron when he keeps telling the same lie one and again he just tries to make it true, equal treatment? Don’t make me laugh! Equal equipment, yes, and that is different.
    For those who “lost respect” to FA I’d think they also lost respect to LH and RD as they all three talk to much (is not just FA)

  49. Totally agree with you Freeman, no. 41. I would hesitate to sign Alonso. He’s not the best driver out there, and any association with him would be mired in disloyalty, sulking, accusations and petulance. I think Briatore has a soft spot for him because he won twice in a Renault and I don’t think Flavio is a very nice man, hence he would flock together with other not nice men. No doubt Alonso will get a good seat in 2009 or 2010, but he sure as Hell doesn’t deserve it. Wherever he ends up, he’ll be scouting around for another drive whether he does well or not, which shows his nasty disloyal character.

  50. Some of you guys have a so distorted view on Fernando that is laughable. He seems so despicable as the devil himself. Probably is the result of reading some tabloids combined with the inhability of understand what Fernando has really said or been asked.

    Try to take with a grain of salt every translated excerpt of his interviews, please.

  51. I think Alonso is just bitter and jealous. Although I don’t like Hamilton as a person, but I do like his driving and skills that he has. Yes, Hamilton is lucky to be in one of the best team for this rookie year. But without his skills, he wouldn’t be able to do well. Just like Michael Andretti Vs. Senna. I don’t think Hamilton blew Alonso away, but being able to match his 2-Times World Champion teammate in points in his first year as a F1 driver, that is hugely impressive.

    Alonso got to stop talking and do more driving. He has problem with everyone. Even now being back to Renault, he is still criticizing his team for having a bad car for him. He can’t work as a team with his team. He can’t work with a second-rated car. What can he do in the future? Even if he does goes to Honda next year, do you think he will get along with Jenson Button very well? I think not. If Button do match or better him, he will call favoritism again, due to Button’s years in Honda. How about Ferrari and BMW? I don’t think they will be able to get along with Alonso either. As long as Alonso still be a baby and whine about this or that, he most likely will struggle for the rest of his career.

  52. LHisNotBadBut
    7th August 2008, 23:09

    The explanation is simple: Ron had invested too much money on Hamilton and Mr Dennis couldn’t allow Alonso to win. Even having team (and FIA) disadvantages, Alonso was better than Hamilton. Open your eyes.

  53. #51

    Open your mind….

  54. LHis – if Alonso was such a problem (a) Dennis wouldn’t have hired him, at multi-million-dollar expense, in the first place and (b) he would have jumped at the opportunity to fire him after the Hungaroring.

  55. Keith.

    You are quite right to suggest that Ron Dennis believed back in late 2005 that he had signed the best driver on the grid on current form, Fernando Alonso.
    The problems arose, as we now know, from what happened after Alonso went to McLaren. I am of the firm belief that Dennis would have fired Alonso at the Hungarian Grands Prix, had it not been for Alonso’s connection with the spy scandal, which McLaren were trying to keep a lid on.
    Dennis, for me, always appeared as a man desperately trying to keep an impossible situation together, but knew that Alonso was just too dangerous a man to let loose. Alonso would surely have spilled the beans on McLaren to the FIA, had Dennis fired him.
    Alonso knew this, as did Dennis, which made Alonso behave in the manner that he did. He had an advantage on them, in that he was in a position to drop them in it if things went pearshaped.
    As it turned out, as we know, Dennis chose to beat Alonso to it, costing himself and McLaren $100 million.
    You are quite right though, before all of this happened, Alonso looked to be the number one man to replace Kimi Raikkonen, without question!

  56. a lot of what FA says gets lost in translation. i’ve seen some of his interviews in spanish and compared them to the translation in the english press and the difference is pretty stunning. the guy gets taken out of context all the time. i think the media need to leave the drivers to racing and when they interview them they should leave out the team politics.

  57. Jake – what have they got wrong in this translation?

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