McLaren Duo: Have They Buried The Hatchet?
Topics: McLaren, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton
August 24, 2007
Close competition between McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton has caused a strained relationship. The feud intensifies in the qualifying for Hungarian Grand Prix. Now the duo claims the feud bubbled to surface. But have they really buried the hatchet?
At the Budapest race, both drivers have disobeyed McLaren orders and resulted with the Spaniard refusing to speak to the Briton teammate as well as a detrimental punishment for the Woking team.
In Hungary, the team’s plan called for Alonso to head out ahead of Hamilton at the start of Q3. But Hamilton reached the end of pit lane first and was at the head of the line of cars waiting for the green light to come on, ESPN reported. And the Briton’s golden boy image took a serous knock.
"When I was at the end of the pit lane, they [McLaren] reminded me 'Lewis, let Fernando past,'" explained the Briton, "and I saw that Fernando was sort of staggered to the right of me and Kimi [Raikkonen in a Ferrari] was very, very close behind that.
"So I immediately thought, 'OK, we can let Fernando past as long as we don't let Kimi past because that puts me out of sync and could ruin my qualifying run.' So I had to take a split-[second] decision. I got round the first corner, I thought 'OK, if Fernando keeps with me, we will both make it, we'll both have the pace.' So I pushed. I don't know why he didn't, but he dropped off quite a bit. I was told to let Fernando past later on, but he was miles behind so I just kept going," Hamilton noted.
"What happened… was something new for the team," Alonso told Spanish reporters. "Hamilton not listening, disobeying them, was something they hadn't experienced."
Alonso pitted first. McLaren told the Spaniard that it would hold him for 20 seconds to give him a gap in traffic for his final qualifying run. He sat there for 20 seconds…. and for another ten seconds.
"As Fernando said, he was told to stop and wait," Hamilton said in the post-qualifying FIA conference. "His wheels were on, his [tire] blankets were off and he was told to wait. I imagine that I probably lost half a minute I would say from my in lap coming in to waiting behind Fernando. At least 30 seconds, so it definitely needs a good explanation."
"He [Alonso] is under the control of his engineer. He determined when he goes. That's the sequence. And if you think that was a deliberate thing, then you can think what you want," explained Rod Dennis, McLaren boss.
As a result, Alonso was stripped of pole position and dropped to sixth place on the grid. Hamilton inherited the pole. McLaren ended up "losing" 15 points after Hamilton finished first and Alonso fourth, and it has filed an appeal, ESPN continued.
The revelations rotate like the Mercedes Benz multi rib belt. Dennis and the McLaren team go to extraordinary lengths to settle the feud. "We were pretty clear," Dennis told Planet-F1. "We run our team in a certain way, and expect from every member of the team certain behaviors. They spoke, now have an understanding between themselves, and are again talking. Neither has a problem with the other. Clearly they are competitive individuals, and for the balance of the season that competitiveness will stay on the circuit. That's our objective. From a team perspective we will rigidly stick to equality, which is sometimes difficult to achieve. And we will run our grand prix team, make no bones about that!”
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