Will Hungary cause Alonso to quit McLaren?
Monday, 6th August 2007
World champion insists relationship with team cannot improve.
Fernando Alonso has cast doubt on whether he will see out the term of his contract with McLaren following the bust-up after qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix on Saturday.
According to reports in the Spanish media, the two-time world champion has hinted that the atmosphere within the camp - exacerbated by the breakdown in communications between Alonso and team-mate Lewis Hamilton - may make his decide to break links with Woking well before the end of his three-year deal.
"I do not know," the Spaniard responded when asked whether he felt he could remain at the team next season, "The business yesterday was somewhat new for the team. Hamilton not paying attention, or disobeying [instructions], was something that it had not experienced."
While he accepted that relations between Hamilton and the team may be frosty for a while, pointing to the muted reception the Briton received after returning to both parc ferme and the McLaren motorhome, he could not see his own situation changing.
"I suppose that, during the next few days, Hamilton will have worse relations with various members of the team - but I will have the same one, and it will not improve," he suggested..
Alonso went on to try and paint a rosier picture of his situation, suggesting that muted congratulations that awaited Hamilton after his victory may have been a reflection of the team's dissatisfaction with the events of Saturday, before attempting to claim that he was happy with fourth place in the race after being demoted to sixth on the grid.
"I was fastest, with the 'pole', yesterday and, today too, the car went well," he continued, "The race went as well as could be expected. We knew that [reaching] the podium was difficult because, at this track, it is very hard to pass. Of course, we dreamt of the podium, and we were close to it, but fourth place was not bad, and the difference is only a point between third and fourth.
"I felt frustration on Saturday night but, when I got up on Sunday, I was already focused on the race, I had 'changed the chip'. It is obvious that, if I had started from the pole, I would probably have won the race. My objective was to leave Hungary as leader of the world championship, and I believe that that was possible until they sanctioned me."
With the rumour mill hinting that he may be a target for Renault boss Flavio Briatore - who, on Friday, again confirmed that he would not be defining Renault's 2008 line-up until Monza at the earliest - Alonso admitted that he hoped the impending summer break would allow tensions at McLaren to cool, so that the team could return to normal in Turkey, and allow him to continue chasing a third world title.
"Hopefully, at the next race, all will be in order and we can try to win again - him as much as me," he said, not mentioning Hamilton by name, "However, in Turkey, I am sure that Ferrari will be fast again, perhaps even more than us.
"I came from a champion team to a team that finished eighth and ninth last year, and I thought that I was going to have a very difficult year in 2007, but I have found the possibility to win another championship, so I have to be happy. Of course, there is a bad taste in the mouth if you are not able to finish some races or have bad luck in others, but there are six races to go and I'll be there."
"Winning the title will be difficult," he admitted, reflecting on the extended seven-point gap between himself and Hamilton, "In other years, I was the one with the advantage and had to defend. This year, I am always on the limit, but I am always behind - a little more, a little less. You arrive at every race weekend knowing that you have to climb another mountain, that you are going to have that to fight against many things.
"But I won't lift off until the last lap in Brazil. Last year, things didn't look too good but, in the penultimate race, Michael Schumacher broke his motor and I won the championship. I will be the last one throwing in the towel."