Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Alonso outburst opens door to exit from McLaren

As offerings go to placate a team who are, in all probability, marginally more on your side emotionally than that of your pesky team-mate, it deserved to be filed away under "ungrateful brat".

"That is always very clear in any team, to have equal opportunities to everybody and to have an equal car to your team-mate," the double world champion Fernando Alonso told BBC Radio Five Live over the Turkish Grand Prix weekend. "What I think sometimes is that I gave the team a lot. When I arrived in December, I remember the car I drove; I remember the results they had in 2006. And now, I brought to the team half a second, six-tenths, whatever, and I don't see anything giving me back."



You could also file it under "stupid comments made by a basically decent bloke who should know better". There is a chance that McLaren will instead deposit Alonso's statement in a drawer labelled "close the door on your way out".



All through the season, Ron Dennis and his lieutenants have done everything they could to keep the lid on the growing rivalry between Alonso, who was expected to set the pace, and Lewis Hamilton, the rookie who actually has. They "helped" him to a strategic victory in Monte Carlo after he stamped his foot, and they "helped" in Hungary to alleviate as much as they could the stain of Alonso deliberately balking Hamilton in the pits during qualifying, in a tit-for-tat payback because Hamilton had not hung around long enough to let him pass him on the track as previously agreed.



Yet, besides that crass remark which belittled the continuous work of McLaren's technical development team in Woking, Alonso also told an apologetic Hamilton last weekend that his beef was not with him but with the team.



Internally, things are so bad that senior figures have complained about the Spaniard to Dennis, and rumours in Turkey suggest that the champion has already had secret talks with his old principal, Flavio Briatore at Renault, about a possible return next year.



By contrast, even though a puncture dropped him two places behind Alonso, whom he had vanquished up until that point, Hamilton seemed ultra-cool after Sunday's race had cut his lead in the title chase to five points over his team-mate. As one man struggles with the pressure, the other still seems to thrive on it.



Thus far, so little seems to have destabilised the 22- year-old Englishman, be it his 120mph crash in Germany, the furore in Hungary or the weekend's puncture. It was not, he said, anything like the crash at Nürburgring, even though the right front tyre was again affected. And nor, he added with commendable politeness when he was asked a ridiculous question about what he thought of the puncture that in 1986 ruined Nigel Mansell's title hopes, did it put him in mind of that historic moment. "I was one at the time," he pointed out, deadpan.



"It's possible the title will go all the way down to the flag in Brazil. At the end of the day it doesn't matter to me whether I get it early or late." He did not need to add: "So long as I do get it."



This may be a humdinger of a season, but despite the dramas Hamilton shows no sign of cracking under the pressure. Alonso? Now that's a different matter.

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