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September 17, 2007

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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