Sunday, 27 February 2011

Why does Fernando Alonso get such hate?

It's not very often that I pay much attention to what The Sun newspaper are saying, but yesterday was a partial exception. I had my attention drawn to their article published that day about Fernando Alonso, wherein they reported with considerable vitriol how Tom Bowers' recent book on Bernie Ecclestone contains 'shocking claims' of how the 'spiteful Spaniard' practiced 'treachery' towards his then team-mate Lewis Hamilton in 2007. I couldn't see anything new in the article (just regurgitated three-and-a-half year old talk about blackmail of Ron Dennis and the like) and can only guess it must have been the slowest of all slow news days in the tabloid's Sports Department. But the fact that the article, and its tone, existed at all got me wondering, and not for the first time, quite why Fernando Alonso inspires the level of hate that he does?

Before I go any further, I ought to declare an interest (which regular readers of the blog may have worked out already): I'm a Fernando Alonso fan. Hopefully not a slavish one, or one that does not always give other drivers respect and admiration, or credit when they deserve it, or one that does not criticise Alonso when he deserves it. But I'm definitely a Fernando Alonso sympathiser, and it's for these reasons that I find the malevolence Alonso seems to inspire rather hard to stomach.

Granted, one should take the tabloids' F1 coverage with several truckloads of salt. It's clear they have their own needs, and accurate reporting that will be appreciated by F1 enthusiasts isn't a priority. Instead, they seek to appeal to the 'mass market' or casual F1 observer, whose interest in the sport probably doesn't extend far beyond supporting the British drivers, and appealing to such readers' sense of moral outrage makes good copy. Yesterday's Sun article ticks those boxes. But it's not just in the tabloids that contempt for Alonso can be found: fans' forums have plenty, as does the specialist motor sport media (I won't name names). As Nigel Roebuck has commented: 'anti-Alonso sentiment...seems rife in this country'.

It surely cannot be denied that F1 is a better sport for Fernando Alonso's presence. The more quality drivers in the sport the better it is for everyone, and Alonso has to be ranked among the best of the best. Martin Brundle's absolutely correct to say 'if you were starting an F1 team, there are three guys on the "must have" list...Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso'. He has won two world championships, has 26 race wins to his name, and his relentlessness, tenacity and extreme pace and aggression have been widely showcased for a number of years. And just imagine what the 2010 season would have been like without him. Sure, some intrigue would have provided by the Vettel/Webber relationship at Red Bull and by Vettel's late-season surge, and Lewis's sterling hanging onto the Red Bulls' coat tails would still have been worthy. But it took Alonso's presence, and his dragging of his Ferrari to places it probably didn't deserve to be, for the 2010 season to go down as a great one.

And a less well-recorded point is that Alonso, on the track at least, is as clean as they come. Unusually in modern F1, it's very hard to cite an egregious stunt he's pulled on a competitor (that's of course not counting the pit lane as part of the track). Schumi can barely go a weekend without one.

On that point, it's undeniable that a lot of the hate can be traced back to 2007. That's of course the tumultuous year in which Alonso partnered Lewis Hamilton as team-mates at McLaren. Indeed, it's easy to forget how popular Alonso was prior that that year, demonstrated by the sympathy he received at the Italian race in 2006 when he was properly mucked about by the stewards. He was the young fighter who had finally toppled Michael Schuamcher, and against the odds. How things changed in a short period of time.

The details of that 2007 season, and the rights and wrongs of the protagonists, would require an article all of their own (and we still haven't really heard Fernando's side of the story). But safe to say it was an unhappy year for him, he rarely drove to his potential, made lots of uncharacteristic errors, and his relationship with his team and team-mate broke down irrecoverably long before the year was out. Further, the year revealed character flaws of Fernando's only seen briefly before and since, wherein he clearly became rattled at the pace of and attention towards his younger team mate (to be honest Lewis's immediate pace was such that it probably surprised even Lewis himself).

Things came to a head in the Hungarian round. In qualifying, in a tit-for-tat with Hamilton, who had refused to let Alonso ahead to serve his turn of running ahead in the fuel burn phase (remember those?), Alonso famously blocked Hamilton in the pit lane, thus not allowing his team-mate to complete his final qualifying run, and earning Alonso a grid penalty. Then, the next morning, Alonso was alleged to have threatened team boss Ron Dennis with revealing incriminating evidence to the FIA of McLaren's 'spying' on Ferrari.

The reality of the Hungary case, and the 2007 year more generally, is much more complex than the common narrative presented in the media and by others (for example, he quickly retracted the blackmail threat, and who hasn't said something stupid in the heat of an argument?). But unfortunately for Fernando, his behaviour fitted neatly into a very 'sellable' storyline, namely that this is a conniving foreigner using underhand tactics to get one over the British golden boy. It's a narrative that's sold a million British school boy comics, and it helped that Alonso's pitlane blocking, unlike Lewis's stunt, was highly visual. The tabloids in particular had a field day about it.

It cannot be denied that in 2007, and in the Hungarian round in particular, Alonso did not cover himself in glory with his actions. But it seems odd that three-and-a-half years on he's still serving penance in many quarters, when sports fans usually show themselves capable of forgetting very quickly. For example, look how quickly Man Utd fans forgave Wayne Rooney's apparent 'treachery' and his demanding of a transfer away from the club for no other reason it seemed than shoehorning even more lucrative wages from them, once he signed a new contract. My impression as well is that Senna's and Schumacher's misdemeanors (and there were plenty) did not get anything like the same criticism, and were forgotten far more rapidly, than Alonso's.

And a further problem for Alonso is that his subsequent actions, however benign they are, are invariably viewed through that 'Dick Dastradly' prism. The poisonous criticisms of him are therefore to an extent self-perpetuating. He has subsequent to 2007 been associated to varying degrees with other controversies, such as Crashgate in the 2008 Singapore race (my thoughts on that are here) wherein his team mate crashed on purpose in a pre-arranged act to help Alonso, and the fuss around team orders in Hockenheim (my thoughts on that are here). It seems in both of these cases, and others less high profile, the willingness to give Alonso any benefit of the doubt is extremely limited, and instead the wide assumption is that he must have had dead hand and malign influence on events. This is despite the complete absence of evidence that he knew anything of Crashgate (to paraphrase Bob Dylan: he can't help it if he's lucky). That his fuel strategy was set the day before the scheme was cooked up, thus making it entirely possible that Alonso was oblivious to the crash plan, was barely recorded. And as for the team orders at Hockenheim, as I've said before that there was a huge overreaction to that in my view, team orders happen right across the F1 grid one way or another, and always have done. To criticise Alonso for his supposed role in the case begs the question - I can't help but suspect that the fallout wouldn't have been anything like as great had the beneficiary been any driver other than Alonso. (As an aside, I hope that those who criticise Fernando Alonso at every opportunity aren't nearly as judgemental with those that they know in their own lives - if they are then I'd suggest they'll end up living very lonely existences).

Nigel Roebuck has no doubt that Alonso has an undeserved reputation which precedes him:  'Every sport has to have a villain, of course...Fernando has increasingly been portrayed as The Man In the Black Hat. Foreigner, of course, swarthy sort of cove. Drives for a foreign team. Doesn't care too much for Lewis Hamilton. Pretty damning, all in all, wouldn't you say?'

Perhaps Fernando doesn't always help himself though. Alonso also has a temperament that on occasion shows itself in high profile situations. This was seen most recently with his gesturing at Vitaly Petrov on the slowing-down lap at Abu Dhabi after being stuck behind him for the large part of the race. Again it didn't look good, but he recanted immediately after the race and accepted that Petrov was only doing his job. But typically it was the gestures that overwhelmingly filled media coverage and fans' forum discussions, and not in a favourable way to Alonso (again not helped by pictures being much more powerful than words). Again however, criticising Alonso for this begs the question - it's hard to believe the same people would been so sensitive had it not been Alonso doing it (for example, Vettel's gestures after his clash with Webber in Turkey in 2010 didn't have anything like the same legs).

He further does not help himself with his certain wariness of the media, particularly the British contingent (arguably with some justification), and he doesn't frequently go out of his way to put his side of the story over. Hungary-gate from 2007 is a case in point, on the morning of the race Lewis Hamilton seemed to be here, there and everywhere, doing his best choirboy routine in front of every available microphone, while Alonso stayed in the background and said very little. It was the same after Monaco that year, Hamilton provided the narrative with very little reply from Alonso.

It's a strength and a weakness of Alonso's, that if it doesn't directly impact the stopwatch he doesn't give it much thought, and it seems media campaigns are very much in this category as far as he's concerned. Part of this wariness is also possibly related to his relatively humble and (with all due respect to Oviedo) somewhat off-the-beaten-track background contributing to a slightly brooding, guarded and suspicious outlook in the F1 arena. This certainly seemed a contributory factor in his relationship breakdown with McLaren in 2007, as a Spanish racing insider commented at the time 'He's a charming guy up close, is funny and charismatic, and he doesn't lack intelligence. But I think he lacks wisdom...he's not from a place like Barcelona or Madrid. I think he...hasn't accommodated the realities of the environment he's in.'

It's a pity though, as I believe that, as well as a higher media presence allowing him to put his side across more effectively when under attack, Alonso is one of the sport's more interesting personalities, and often refreshingly frank about a variety of matters. And by the accounts of those who really know him, he's tremendously fun and effervescent to be around (as our 'insider' said). It's probably no coincidence that in Spain and Italy, where he's more open with the media and generally, he's tremendously popular. Apparently the Tifosi love him more than any driver since Gilles Villeneuve - high adulation indeed.

Fernando Alonso is a massive asset for F1 as a sport, and will surely go down in history as one of the best ever. It's therefore frustrating to see Alonso's actions followed by such negativity. Moreover, it's based on a rather pantomime villain persona that has been constructed for him, and which in my view has very little basis in reality and is to a large extent self-perpetuating. As Formula One fans we should be grateful for what Fernando Alonso brings to the sport, and remember as well that, while he like everyone else is open to criticism and scrutiny, he is also, like all F1 drivers, worthy of a lot of respect. They are after all better than us.

And for those who make a habit of pouncing upon him, via whatever forum, I ask you to really think what you are basing it on. And then think again about whether you therefore should lay off.


  1. Interesting read.

    BTW, I found your site when checking referral links in the server stat's.

    I'll make a point of checking in from now on.

    Clip The Apex

  2. Thanks very much Brogan, glad you like the article and the blog.

    I really like Clip the Apex, I have a link to it in my blogroll (see to the right!). I particularly like your overtaking stats and analysis, which I referenced in a post I did just before Xmas, see:

  3. Man.....u mentioned that u were a fan of FA.....and that killed the entire article......nothing new is there which a typical FA fan has not said.........i wont take too long, just wanted to say one thing...

    If he was truly a gritty character, he shouldn't have walked away after 2007, instead he should have beaten the shit out of hamilton in 2008..... the truth is whether u like it or not.....he can't handle when somebody gets under his skin....and hamilton exactly did that...he was better and faster......that caused FA off guard and now with vettel...i don't think there is much scope for FA in future as far as championships are concerned....cant wait to see vettel at ferrari!!!

  4. Thanks for your comments Piyush, and hope you like the blog.

    You're right in a sense, that if Alonso had handled his relationship with McLaren a little better he could well have had four consecutive championships to his name (i.e. added the 2007 and 2008 titles to those he has), so in that sense it's Alonso himself who's lost out most from the relationship breakdown with McLaren.

    I also suspect that if Alonso had his time again he would have handled things very differently in 2007. But to do that requires a large dose of hindsight - we were all astonished by the amount of pace Hamilton showed immediately in his debut year (though we suspected he’d be good), it was an unprecedented level of performance. As I said, I suspect that if Lewis Hamilton was being completely candid he would admit that he himself was slightly surprised by it! And it's undeniable that Alonso was rattled by it, and did react in the wrong way, and in a rather paranoid way. It seems to be something in the make-up of the top F1 drivers that if they are beaten by a team mate such is their self-believe/arrogance, call it what you like, their reaction is to think 'well it can't possibly be me at fault!', and to think people aren’t playing fair with them. We saw that in the early part of 2010 when Vettel was being beaten by Webber, and apparently the likes of Senna and Schumacher were exactly the same on the (rare) occasions they were beaten by a team mate.

    But I think Alonso's learned from the experience and would react better if put in a similar position again.

    You forget also that despite all of the problems/issues discussed Alonso finished on the same number of points as Hamilton in 2007 - so he must have something to offer.

    As for the future, you're being a little premature in writing Alonso off for future titles. You're right that it'll be tough against Vettel (as well as against Hamilton, and a few others), but give Alonso a Ferrari that’s as good, or nearly as good, as the rest and I certainly wouldn’t bet against him for the title.

    On the point of me saying I'm an Alonso fan, I wanted to be honest and transparent with people. But hopefully this doesn't stop me calling it as I see it, and in an even-handed way. Sorry you feel that this invalidates my opinions. Let's face it though, we all have our predispositions (i.e. we all prefer some drivers to another), it's human nature. So we wouldn't accept many opinions if we looked only for absolute impartiality!

  5. Well...first of all...I have to accept that you are much better to talk to than other typical FA fans who simply react as shows that u are a real fan...who accepts the negative points of his well done.....i myself, am MSC fan.....and i too accept his negative points.....but in a least he personally never reacted in an obnoxious manner when his teammate performed well.....i still remember rubens first victory where entire MSC family congratulated him....Again after that 2002 Austrian Fiasco(it was fucking Jean Todt's order; I hated him), MSC asked rubens to go on the top step of humble is that for a champion ...who is on the not only that in the same year at US Gp, Michael allowed Rubens to take victory...still people only remember Austria, not US......I really don't think FA is any close to this as far as morality is concerned......the last german gp incident really pissed me off....and yeah...he will only win if ferrari is better than red bull and mclaren.

    1. He wins with weak ferrari so dont say like that

  6. Thanks very much again for the comments Piyush, as well as for the kind words.

    I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about how good Alonso is. But I disagree he'll necessarily need a car advantage to win the title. Remember he came within a dud strategy call of winning the title in 2010, and the Ferrari was never as good as the Red Bull.

    On the other hand, I don't expect Red Bull to make nearly as many mistakes in 2011 as they did in 2010.

  7. PART TWO:

    Yes … now that the furore surrounding the ‘cheating’ scandal has subsided and McLaren no longer have to worry about gaining any Constructors’ Championship points … Ron Dennis and his ‘team’ (as I feared they would) just couldn’t resist resorting to their old tricks with a vengeance … it’s nearing the end of the season … latter part of the race … ideal weather conditions to camouflage their treachery … three races to go … Hamilton two points ahead of Alonso … if Alonso were to score no points in this Japanese GP it would ultimately sew-up and secure Hamilton’s sensational … fantastic … unprecedented … phenomenal … legend in his own life-time (will the media and TV commentators ever run out of new superlatives to describe Hamilton??) 2007 Formula One Championship … and let’s not forget either that a couple of races ago Hamilton did actually overtake a car that wasn’t a back-marker (that of the laid-back Mr Raikkonen who happened to be nursing a neck injury as he approached a sharp corner??) … and my God didn’t Martin Brundle & co hype it up to the hilt.

    Mark Blundell even stated after the race that he hadn’t seen such a brilliant overtaking manoeuvre for many many years … increasingly (and most irritatingly) as I’ve already pointed out all the ITV race commentators have systematically raved and harped-on about the still unproven and unfounded (in my opinion) ‘talents’ of the British rookie Hamilton and have consistently under-rated and belittled the bona fide and genuine talents of the reigning 2-times World Champion Alonso … do they really think that we F1 fans can be fooled so easily … obviously they do … but I for one certainly haven’t been?!?

    Let me try to clarify (and convince you) further Mr Dacre that McLaren have stopped at nothing to assure Hamilton wins the Drivers’ Championship this year, ie: their diabolical decision during the latter part of the race on Sunday to deliberately bring Alonso into the pits first (whilst he was second behind Hamilton) knowing that they would be sending him out behind four cars and that effectively he would be stuck behind that traffic while Hamilton could sail merrily out in front of them from his subsequent pit-stop to resume leading the race (please note that Mr McEvoy doesn’t quite describe Alonso’s pit-stop or these facts in quite the same way??).

    Not content with that and just to make certain that Alonso would have no way of catching up to Hamilton and gain any points at all from this race it was also flagrantly obvious that from the moment Alonso left the pits his car had suddenly become unbalanced and he was clearly struggling to control it on the bends and even on the straits and I’m not talking about the parts of the circuit which had standing water where the cars were more likely to aqua-plane and veer off the track??


  8. Hi Graham … I’ve had a few problems getting this message to you and actually sent you the wrong one (see the above second instalment of a letter that I sent to Andrew van de Burgt back in 2007) … think I’ve sussed it now so here goes … what follows is in response to your question ‘Why does Fernando Alonso get such hate’? …

    Ohh when are you people ever going to see the light?? Alonso was blatantly robbed of the title in 2007 because in fact Hamilton was given (yes on a plate and in part thanks to massaged pole positions in qualifying) numerous advantages over Alonso ... whereas in contrast virtually all Alonso's attempts were ruthlessly thwarted ... and people wonder why Alonso became so guarded, suspicious and resentful??

    And come on pleeeze Hamilton's success in 2007 was never as a result of his 'alleged' driving talent and skills ... also McLaren's repeated assurances in 2007 that both of their drivers were treated equally is laughable!

    Let me assure you that Alonso emphatically did not deliberately hold up Hamilton at the final qualifying pit-stop in Hungary in 2007 but thanks to Ron Dennis' cunning and Oscar-winning performance(s) he along with his trusty McLaren co-conspirators managed to convince/indoctrinate/brainwash and con almost a whole nation into ‘taking it as gospel’?!?

    And still Dennis' tentacles of evil and treachery are able to reach a long way ... he is (and always has been) the prime mover who ensures that all the false and unproven allegations that have been made about Alonso since 2007 are systematically churned out (lest we forget) and it is he who is still trying to assassinate Alonso’s character and further tarnish his reputation at every opportunity.

    I wonder just how many British newspaper journalists, race pundits, commentators and people like Tom Bower are in Ron's pocket ... how many have had to wash the sordid grease from their palms after doing his dirty work, ie: regurgitating the same old lies (and in Bower's case interjecting a new one??) about the petulant Spaniard??

    These particular Alonso saboteurs who all to some extent have influence over the British fans ‘thinking’ (Tom Bower and a certain Sun Newspaper reporter being two of the most recent defamers) have undoubtedly been trying to break Alonso’s competitive spirit and thwart all his attempts of winning a third Championship … the subtle psychological tactics used are not so subtle any more … in fact they’re becoming pretty predictable!

    Like I've stated before ... what they’ve done (and are still doing) re Alonso makes me feel ashamed to be British ... ohh and I can’t wait to hear what snide Alonso jibes and subtle insinuations Martin Brundle will stealthily interject into his commentary this year … he who played an instrumental part in getting rid of the fair/unbiased and very professional Jonathan Legard so that he (Brundle) could take the lead role in the commentary box with his old side-kick David Coulthard sitting next to him and agreeing with everything he says ... we shall see what transpires??


  9. CONTINUED : PART TWO (getting mixed up with my parts ha! ha!)


    Dear Mr Mosley

    I’m now 100% convinced that in Hungary at the end of the 3rd qualifying session Alonso was deliberately told to wait at his pit-stop by his race engineer and that this was a premeditated manoeuvre stage-managed by Ron Dennis to try and make Alonso look (to all the watching world) like he was intentionally holding-up Hamilton to prevent his last qualifying lap … I suspect that Dennis’ main motivation was to cast doubt on Alonso’s character/honesty/integrity and blacken his unblemished reputation … unfortunately in many credulous/trusting and unsuspecting observers’ eyes that’s exactly what Dennis achieved with the aiding and abetment of all the ITV commentators who were lightning quick to announce over the air that yes it was undoubtedly a deliberate act on the part of Alonso.

    I have to say that while I was watching the pit-stop incident unfold and having to listen to James Allen’s purely speculative charges of unfair play I knew that Alonso would never do something like that … my first reaction/suspicion was that Mr Dennis was up to no good and that Alonso had been told something over his radio which had kept him rooted to the spot?!?

    Later when Fernando was asked by Louise Goodman (on camera) after the qualifying session why he had waited for so long after the lollipop was raised to do his last flying lap he answered (as always) quite openly and unequivocally that he was obeying instructions given over his radio to wait and be counted-down … when Louise pushed him for further clarification and countered in a surprised voice … ‘but the lollipop had been raised and all the pit-crew were waving for you to GO??’ … Fernando seemed just as surprised that Louise should question or doubt his explanation but confidently assured her that his race engineer’s authority actually overrides the pit-crew’s!

    Alonso even (presumably in case she hadn’t understood what he meant by being ‘counted-down’) gave her a verbal example of what he was listening to on his radio … ‘you know 8 – 7 - 6 - 5 – 4- etc’ … this brief interview was never repeated on any of ITV’s subsequent pre- or post-race programmes or alluded to after in the British press (as far as I’m aware?) and I suspect that shortly after Alonso had elucidated Ms Goodman he would have been instructed not to comment on the incident from the moment it was under investigation by the Hungarian race stewards’???

    But by this time most people had already jumped to the mistaken (but understandable) conclusion that Fernando was guilty … this of course was Ron Dennis’ prime objective and clearly the stewards’ subsequent decision to penalise Alonso was seen as pretty compelling evidence of his culpability and only helped to further fuel the fallacious assumptions that he must have been guilty of deliberately blocking Hamilton?? It was also conspicuous that after Hungary the ITV interviews with Alonso dwindled significantly … McLaren (and their co-conspirators) couldn’t have him being so open and outspoken and telling the world the truth … could they??

    I for one am certain that Alonso is far too intelligent/ethical/principled and conscious of his good name and reputation to jeopardise it by resorting to such dirty and unsportsman-like tactics (however much he might be provoked beyond endurance by either his team or team-mate??) … but having said that … if he was acting on his own and out for revenge on Hamilton at that pit-stop then he could have just (accidentally?) stalled his engine when the pit lollipop went up … this would have achieved the desired effect of thwarting Hamilton without the risk of inducing a stewards’ enquiry and a possible penalty??



    If Hamilton had nabbed pole ahead of him that day then Alonso would prefer (and feel quite confident and unfazed under normal circumstances) to take his chances and race Hamilton on the track rather than blatantly cheat and incur the bitter recriminations and widespread disapproval that would inevitably follow? No … to gain an advantage in this way just simply wouldn’t be an option for Alonso … it’s most definitely not the way that he wants to be remembered in the record books or by his loyal and adoring fans … hence I can state quite emphatically that he never has been (or ever will be) tempted to join the ‘dark side’ of F1 motor racing?!?

    Back to the pit-stop in Hungary … yes indeed this was a most carefully planned-with-precision manoeuvre by Ron Dennis and a select few of his trusty McLaren aides to seriously discredit Alonso ... Mr Dennis is not a man known to explode in anger or show his true feelings and emotions (at least not when he knows the TV cameras are around) … in fact he is consummate at disguising them and invariably portrays a steely calm/inscrutable/unflappable exterior … so his overtly-animated (some might even say violent?) display of unrestrained temper just around the time that Alonso was (allegedly) holding up Hamilton in the pits … the jumping off his seat and smashing down his headphones in a rage whilst letting vent to a couple of unrepeatable expletives was a real Oscar-winning performance by Ron which successfully produced the desired result of making it look like he was furious with Alonso for baulking Hamilton (it’s inconceivable that he wouldn’t have known that Fernando was being counted-down?).

    Ron’s ‘performance’ together with all the pit-crew frantically waving at Alonso to GO GO GO made it appear even more like he (Alonso) was just sitting in his car defiantly ignoring everybody and brazenly obstructing his team-mate … I imagine that most of the pit-crew were totally unaware and oblivious at the time (as was everybody else) that Alonso was in fact being told to wait over his radio before doing his final lap … we also didn’t know at that point about Hamilton’s earlier misdemeanour that had (according to his boss) put them ‘all out of sequence’.

    It’s worth repeating … this was a carefully premeditated manouevre devised by Ron to dupe everybody and it was he who ensured that Alonso was penalised and thereafter censured and frowned on by many F1 fans and the sports media … the stewards’ decision would have also had the added bonus of perhaps unnerving/intimidating/daunting and putting a damper on Alonso’s hopes and aspirations?!?



    I closely studied Ron Dennis’ body language at the end of that qualifying session (as he descended from the pit-wall) and by the time he was asked on camera what had actually happened his steely calm had returned and he visibly hedged and avoided the question (let’s not forget that he’s had many years of practice in the art of deceit and camouflage) … the vague and indirect answers he did give only served to endorse the speculation that Alonso’s 10-second wait in the pits was a calculated move by him to scupper Hamilton’s last lap.

    Only much later did Dennis confess in a press conference that Alonso was following his race engineer’s instructions and I’m certain he only admitted it then because Alonso had that chance to leak the truth to Louise Hamilton in the post-qualifying interview (this had not been part of Ron’s plan but Louise is always very quick to track-down the drivers’ and get their views and opinions, etc).

    Dennis’ deliberate delay in defending and exonerating his driver (Alonso) a.s.a.p. is what helped to sew those seeds of doubt in many people’s minds (which was his sole intention) and when he was later pressed to give his explanation/version of events he answered somewhat reluctantly and unconvincingly as though it was just an excuse/pretext/defence he had conjured up to ‘protect’ Alonso and account for his behaviour??

    Ron’s actual words in the press conference were … ‘Fernando and his engineer did nothing wrong and the count-down was to give him track position … if you think it was deliberate then you can think what you want??’ … if we dissect this statement it’s clear that in the first part he is agreeing (on record) with Alonso’s account and if this is what Ron told the race stewards’ then surely it should have exonerated Alonso from any blame and therefore he should not have been penalised??

    But sadly the second part of Ron’s statement is not an emphatic denial of any wrongdoing (as it should have been) and Ron seems to be giving his audience full permission to think (and subsequently print) what they want (which is exactly what they did?) … if not a deliberate play-on-words by Ron then this was an extremely irresponsible and ill-considered thing for him to say and (to me) it’s additional proof of Ron’s guile and cunning … I’m willing to bet 10euros that it was after Alonso received the news the following morning (on race day) that the stewards’ had penalised him by dropping him from pole to 6th position on the grid as a penalty for blocking Hamilton that he (as Ron later stated) … ‘arrived and was pretty upset and emotional … upset about many things … upset with life … upset with this and that’?? Obviously Ron had been asked why Fernando was so upset but he couldn’t tell them the truth could he … I believe Ron Dennis is a ruthlessly manipulative man who uses/abuses/exploits and takes advantage of people and particularly his drivers to achieve his own ends??


  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    The pit-stop incident was a well-executed ploy to sew the seeds of doubt and disappointment into Alonso’s adoring Spanish fans’ minds about their champion and hero … his fame/celebrity/ prestige and substantial Spanish following had to be curbed and dampened to make way for the fanatical Brits who have blindly believed everything they’ve read, seen and heard about Hamilton?? It was a cunning and ingenious stratagem … pre-planned and executed with military precision by Ron Dennis who (I believe) masterminded the whole campaign against Alonso.

    And it conspicuously succeeded because when asked for their opinions on an Internet poll shortly after the pit-stop incident only 3 out of 80 F1 fans (allegedly taken from a cross-section of 4,000 e-mails received) did not believe that Alonso was guilty … the other 77 were totally convinced that he was culpable?!? Again returning briefly to the Hungarian pit-lane incident it’s been suggested that Hamilton would not have had enough time to finish his last flying lap even if Alonso had gone when the pit lollipop was lifted??? I have no way of verifying or confirming this piece of information Max but it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out to be true.

    Fernando was assuredly robbed of (and cheated out of) his Championship title this year … he is without doubt the most talented and superior driver of the moment and would have won it by a mile if there had been no skulduggery and underhand tactics … Ron Dennis must not be allowed to get away with what he’s done … there was a question posted on ‘F1’ (in response to Alonso’s claim that McLaren were giving Hamilton preferential treatment) which asked … ‘why would Ron Dennis hire a double champion in the first place and then favour the rookie?’ … I’ve attempted to further analyse and re-cap what Ron Dennis may have been trying to achieve … and what he has achieved (according to some rumours that are circulating) by signing both Alonso and Hamilton for 2007 …

    Alonso is a thoroughly moral and honest man and is a racing driver for all the right reasons and he’s shown a tremendous degree of self-discipline considering how he’s been betrayed and stabbed in the back by Ron Dennis et al … he outclasses and outperforms Hamilton and completely puts him in the shade and for members of his team to tamper with his car (which could endanger his life) and shatter his hopes is unforgivable and the quicker Alonso waves goodbye to Ron Dennis and McLaren the better!!

    I lost any shred of respect that I had for Ron Dennis when he didn’t admit on camera that it was at his bidding that Alonso held up Hamilton at the now famous pit stop … it was either Ron himself or someone on the pit wall who was under his instruction that told Alonso (via his radio) to stay put and counted him down while Hamilton was impatiently waiting behind him … and yet it was only Alonso who was penalised and made to start from sixth place while having to watch Hamilton take pole … I do believe Hamilton went on to win the race … well there’s a surprise?!?


  14. Thanks for that information!

    I've discovered since writing the above post on Alonso, that the whole Alonso debate gets a lot of passions going! I agree with you to an extent, that I believe the whole Alonso at McLaren story is only half-told, and that I suspect it is more complicated than the narrative often presented on it. I suspect more of the story will emerge from all parties in the years ahead, and I for one look forward to that.

    One thing I would say though is that I for one would never question Ron Dennis's integrity, at least not without evidence. While he's not perfect, I do view Dennis generally as one of the most honourable people in the sport in recent times. I also don't believe there was any difference equipment-wise between Hamilton and Alonso in '07. But as David Coulthard will testify (and Mark Webber after last year), the feeling that you're 'the other driver' in a team can have a big impact psychologically.

    I also feel that Martin Brundle is very positive about Alonso (read the latest copy of Motor Sport magazine) and yes ITV were very pro-Hamilton, but in their defence talking up the 'British hero' made sense for them commercially.

    Thanks again for your comments - just so you know, I deleted one of your posts as it breached my comments policy.

  15. Great article Graham.

    I think that apart from the more base British jingoism triggered by the 2007 season there is another, lingering problem with Fernando's character and the way this egocentricity comes across in the media. (I speak Spanish so it's not a matter of language: he basically sounds the same in Spanish, and the Spanish people are divided on the issue of Alonso).

    He comes across as too confident and often dismissive of other drivers. A good example is the last race in China, where after Q, he said he would only have to pass Petrov and then go for a podium. "Only" pass Petrov.

    Or, earlier in the season, he said that he wasn't worried about losing points to a non-title-challenger (Petrov). Is it really necessary? How can he be so confident that Renault will not prove better than Ferrari in 2011? It's very early days so better shut it.

    We know he doesn't rate any other drivers apart from Kubica (who is a friend). When he came to Ferrari he was given the largest F1 budget and was expected to become the new Schumi, taking part in development and delivering a world-beating package. Well, no evidence of that yet.

    Same story at McLaren where he was rattled by another driver who had the nerve to be as fast as him, the double champion.
    As usual, Fernando looked for the answers outside himself and made sure he left asap.

    You cannot help wonder if Alonso really has gained anything by leaving Renault in 2007. Is he really better off now?

    His talents, plentiful, are there for everybody to see. But somehow he has been let down by his personality. Being great, truly great, truly confident, allows you to be generous with the world around you.


  16. Thanks for your thoughts Morris, as well as for your nice words.

    You're right, in that Alonso can be frank in his comments, sometimes bordering on the uncomfortable, on a variety of issues which has included comments on other drivers. The comment after the Australian race about Petrov not being a championship contender, while true in some ways, did come across as rather tactless. And this doesn't help his already patchy reputation.

    Nevertheless, towards the end of last season Alonso was extraordinarily generous in his assessment of the other top drivers (I don't think it's fair to say he only rates Kubica, though he clearly rates him very highly). I can think of very few other top F1 drivers ever making similar comments, so he does seem to have it in him to be humble, see:

    You're also right that Alonso could easily be sitting on more than his two world championships if he'd managed his relationships with his teams a little better. He nevertheless seems to have 'come home' at Ferrari now. I think for a variety of reasons they won't replicate the success of the Schumi days (e.g. resource restriction, stronger other teams/drivers etc), but I'd be amazed if he doesn't win at least one championship there.

  17. Here, Here!! Isn't it great to support the panto villain at times though? Every time he looks to be down and out he comes back fighting, never gives up and shuts up the detractors with stunning on track performances!

  18. OK, the article is quite old, but still a good one, IMHO. The author and I share the same opinion about Alonso - to some extent I understand why he's hated more than others.

    Successful people always get some portion of hate, so that's no surprise. I don't tend to go back in time to judge what was wrong, especially in 2007, but today, it's fact that Alonso and Hamilton are in a great shape, both having respect for each other, and that' what's important, to me.

    Now, they have a common enemy - Vettel, so I expect spectacular races til the end of 2011, and even stronger Ferrari and Mclaren 2012.

    To the next people that will attack me - there's nothing wrong in supporting a sport person - the difference is that I don't hate his rivals. It's the opposite - I like seeing strong rivals - it brings excitement to the races.

  19. Incredible, it's eve of 2013 season, and after the great year Alfonso had on 2012, nearly beaten Vettel for the WDC to the last race, in a much inferior car, still Alonso is unjustly hated.

    Go Alonso beat them all!

  20. I have found this great post too late (2 years after it was written), but I can not agree more. Your analysis is absolutly brilliant and realistic.

    I can add some information about this issue. I live in Spain - I am spanish, in fact - and I could have written just this same post, replacing "Alonso" by "Hamilton". In Spain, local tabloids have orchestrated an equivalent campaign against Hamilton, using the same adjectives against him: treacherous, blackmailer, etc.

    Fortunately, the real F1 lovers appreciate fantastic drivers like Alonso or Hamilton.

  21. Uhh, because he's a nasty, spiteful, angry, f**k? Dishonorable, dishonest and treacherous, in a sport where the competitors are risking their lives? Disliked even by the other drivers? Case in point: Yesterday. The waiting room at Spa-Francorchamps for the podium finishers. Vettel and Hamilton were clowning around like a couple of schoolboys. Obviously relieved to have survived another race, and basking in their podium finishes. Two of "the Boys", colleagues who have formed a bond based on exceptional talent. Ten feet away, showing plenty of rejecting body language, Alonshole stands, smoldering with resentment. Why don't I like this jackass? Do you have a few hours? I respect his skill, but will never root for Teflonso.

    1. 'Dishonorable, dishonest and treacherous?' May I ask what exactly you base this on? OK, you have Hungary 2007, but he's allowed one aberration in a long career surely? It's far fewer aberrations than most F1 drivers manage after all. And don't say Singapore 2008, as there's no evidence that Alonso knew anything about what happened there (and we're all innocent until proven guilty). Plus Max Mosley said recently that he brought in expert questioners to investigate Crashgate, and they interviewed Alonso and afterwards were of the opinion that Alonso was telling the truth when he said he didn't know anything about the plan.

      Also, could you tell me which other drivers 'dislike' Alonso? It's just that I'm not aware of any that do. You mention Hamilton, but he and Alonso get along very well these days. Anyone that's seen the two of them together in the paddock will tell you that. And Alonso is close friends with many drivers; Webber is the most obvious example, also Kubica and Trulli in the past. Alonso and Vettel aren't especially close, but that's not based on anything sinister (is it reasonable to expect all F1 drivers to be bosom pals with all other F1 drivers?). Certainly 'dislike' is much too strong a word.

      And, let me get this straight, you're criticising Alonso for not 'clowning around like a schoolboy'? Is it not his right to not 'clowning around like a schoolboy'? Plus, if we wasn't 'clowning around like a schoolboy' I'd suggest that's explained by him being an adult. I also don't believe that Hamilton and Vettel have ever formed a 'bond'. Most reckon Alonso and Hamilton are closer than Hamilton and Vettel.

      And as for Alonso 'smouldering with resentment', well for what it's worth I sat ten feet away from Alonso in the press conference that immediately followed Spa's podium ceremony, and far from 'smouldering with resentment' Alonso was exceptionally positive and upbeat about his weekend, and optimistic for the future. He was also complimentary of Vettel's and Red Bull's win (here's the transcript if you don't believe me, you'll find little evidence of 'smouldering with resentment': I can only guess that if you think Alonso was 'smouldering with resentment' it was merely a construct created entirely inside your own head. As indeed I suspect most of your negative predispositions towards Fernando Alonso are.

  22. Sorry for being a hog, but I want to add this. I'm a (US-based) Hamilton fan, but don't hate Vettel at all. Nor do I say he's just lucky to be driving a car that's way superior. A lesser driver would have wilted under the pressure long ago.