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September 20, 2007

More on Alonso & McLaren

Filed under: Formula One — admin @ 10:37 am

A few days ago, I noted that Alonso’s threatening of his team boss was a grave misjudgement on Alonso’s part. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about McLaren (and, in particular, Ron Dennis) would know before they started that it was a futile and ultimately pointless effort by Alonso.

It now seems that Alonso and Dennis are no longer on speaking terms; indeed, they haven’t been since the Hungary debacle (when Alonso was found guilty of impeding team mate Hamilton during final qualifying, thereby ensuring Hamilton couldn’t get another lap in and leaving Alonso free to run to pole position) back in August.

Historically, when a team boss and driver are no longer speaking it doesn’t bode well for the relationship. Think of Prost and Alesi in 2001.

So where does that leave the Alonso/McLaren relationship? Can they continue after this? I think it highly unlikely. The facts, as they have recently emerged, are:

  • Alonso did threaten his team boss.
  • Alonso felt his status as World Champion should mean McLaren focussed their efforts on him, to the detriment of his team mate. Ron Dennis disagreed.
  • Ron Dennis demonstrated his integrity by going straight to the FIA as soon as he had knowledge of the extra evidence Alonso threatened him with (thereby effectively calling Alonso’s bluff).
  • When asked by the team to attend the FIA hearing in September, Alonso refused, prompting Ron Dennis to label him “…a remarkable recluse for a driver.”
  • Alonso was in possession of crucial evidence in the ‘spygate’ scandal yet didn’t notify Ron Dennis immediately.

The last point is also true of Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren’s test driver. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as a result, de la Rosa was shown the door.

Also questionable is how much effort the team are now prepared to put into engineering Alonso to a championship: he’s already proved he thinks he’s above the team, we’ve had revelations that he’s offered money (out of his own pocket) to his mechanics to ensure he beats Hamilton, so surely he can’t expect any preferential treatment now?

It all smacks somewhat of an insecure driver who has been rattled by a rookie.

So all this leaves the burning question: will Alonso be sitting in a McLaren next year?

My guess is that he won’t. He’ll either go back to Renault (who have failed to maintain their competitiveness since Alonso departed) or he’ll sign for Ferrari.

How better to poke Ron Dennis in the eye one last time?

September 19, 2007

iPhone released in the UK

Filed under: Apple,Mobile — admin @ 8:41 am

So it’s here (well, it will be in November).

And it’s on 02. Exclusively.

Three tariffs are available: £35 gets you 200 minutes and 200 texts; £45 gets you 600 minutes and 500 texts and £55 gets you 1200 minutes and 500 texts. All plans come with ‘unlimited’ data (subject to a ‘fair usage policy’ — find that policy on the 02 site if you can) and free voicemail. The handset will set you back £269.

Also included as part of the iPhone ‘package’ is free access to 7,500 WiFi spots in the UK — no specifics on where these are though.

And no deal with Starbucks — interestingly, when asked why the Apple/Starbucks deal didn’t make it to the UK, Steve Jobs replied “You’ll have to ask Starbucks about that. They love the UK.”

September 17, 2007

Some quick thoughts on the F1 spy scandal & McLaren in general

Filed under: Formula One — admin @ 11:11 am
  • Do we know why Nigel Stepney decided to give Ferrari secrets away?
  • If de la Rosa and Alonso knew they had incriminating evidence, why did they not tell their team boss sooner?
  • Interesting that Hamilton is now openly criticising Alonso’s driving tactics and his no-show at the Paris hearing

These are likely to be added to throughout the day…

Taxi for Alonso

Filed under: Formula One — admin @ 11:05 am

So, the F1 spy scandal has reached a conclusion: for McLaren, a somewhat expensive one. For Ferrari, it’s still too soft.

This all follows new evidence that came to light implicating that McLaren did indeed use sensitive Ferrari data to their advantage. The evidence was submitted in the form of emails between de la Rosa (McLaren’s tester) and Alonso referencing sensitive Ferrari data that came from Mike Coughlan (via Nigel Stepney at Ferrari).

How this evidence came to light is more interesting: Alonso is alleged to have threatened Ron Dennis that, unless Ron made Alonso team leader, he’d show the emails to the FIA. (At the time, Ron claims he knew nothing of the emails and, given his widely publicised integrity, you’d be inclined to believe him.)

Ron then phoned the FIA to inform them of the emails, the FIA then asked the drivers for their full co-operation and the emails were disclosed. The rest is history.

Now, this is all based on rumour and conjecture: nobody is confirming the claims but, interestingly, nobody is exactly denying them either. The best we’ve had is from Alonso’s manager, Luis Garcia Abad:

When asked about the stories of Alonso threatening to reveal the email exchange to the FIA, Abad said: “It’s not true, and it’s not possible. The facts say it is not true because it happened in a different way.”

It’d be interesting to hear what those facts are and how it did happen. If your driver is accused of something as heinous as this, surely you’d issue a swift and thorough rejection?

Ron Dennis won’t confirm what was said between himself and Alonso, but he does say they spoke and that Alonso was “pretty upset by many things”:

“Fernando arrived, pretty upset by many things. I’m not going to give you the detail,” said Dennis.

“In a conversation that took place he said ‘I have something in my e-mail system which is from one of your engineers’.”

If Alonso really did threaten his team boss, then he seriously misjudged Ron Dennis. Anyone with an iota of knowledge about the history of McLaren knows that Ron doesn’t favour drivers: there has never been a ‘no 1’ McLaren driver.

You also have to question Alonso’s motivation: is he really that rattled by Hamilton that he’s prepared to blackmail his own team boss? And, according to one British paper today, prepared to offer his mechanics £650 each to help him beat Hamilton?

Now, Alonso is a double world champion. No mean feat, especially when you remember he beat a certain M Schumacher twice to get those titles. To become a world champion requires certain levels of tenacity, selfishness and ruthlessness.

But these are generally aimed at your competitors, not your own team. If the rumours are true, Alonso has seriously misjudged the situation and, more tellingly, his own standing with McLaren.

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