Divisions growing inside McLaren

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A well known F1 twitter individual commented following yesterdays driver press conference, that he thought there was no contradiction by Alonso of his team’s position on the crash in Barcelona testing.

My recommendation is that this individual start reporting on bowls.

Yesterday was dynamite. The prodigal son who shipped McLaren to the FIA costing them a $100m fine for cheating in 2007, returned to trackside ready to race once again for the Woking team. At the Fernando Alonso road show that was the FIA conference, the Spaniard looked relaxed and confident despite the whirlwind start to his season.

Notably, Alonso was most particular in what he had to say, and it is clear the Fred/Big Ron love – with which we were presented when the Spaniard was revealed as the Woking team’s new signing for 2015 – is gone.

Alosno told the BBC, “1 minute after the car stopped, I don’t remember anything more until I wake up in the hospital. Doctors say that due to the medication they give me for the transportation… it is normal that I lost this memory”

Having spoken to the driver, James Allen clarified, “It was only when he was in the medical centre that he was sedated an given some drugs to go on to the medical helicopter, that was the point at which he lost consciousness.”

So the first question is, why was Alonso airlifted to hospital following a relatively low speed crash in which he was not rendered unconscious? Neither driver nor the team have provided anything remotely satisfactory as an explanation. As we know, Alonso was not just driven to hospital for a check up, but was admitted to intensive care and spent three nights under medical observation, before the doctors were content to release him.

Whilst Fernando was undergoing the medical supervision in Spain, McLaren were stating, this was “a normal testing incident” and that the car was in no way at fault.

One of the explanations offered by McLaren was, that on the day of the crash the wind was gusting heavily and it may have destabilised Alonso’s car causing him to lose control.

Fernando could not have been more categorical, almost to the point of ridicule, in his rejection of McLaren’s ‘wind’ explanation. Even a hurricane would not move the car at that speed. Also if you have any problem, medical issue, normally you will lose power and go straight to the outside, never to the inside. That’s one thing”.

James Allen revealed on Radio Five lives, “Behind the scenes, there’s a certain friction between them [McLaren and Alonso], Alonso’s not happy with the internal report that was put together, where McLaren insisted there was nothing wrong with the car. But he [Alonso] is saying there definitely was because the steering was a problem”.

In the FIA press conference, the discrepancy between the team and Alonso’s position was raised and the Spaniard was questioned as to why the team had refused to accept this could have been a car failure, he replied: “Well, I don’t think that they say this anymore.”

McLaren were asked whether they now accepted the car was at fault, they refused comment. However, the team did respond by again wheeled out Jenson Button to give his expert opinion on the matter. “I’ve looked at the data and I’m happy to drive the car,” Button said. “My view hasn’t changed on that’.

The Brisish world champion backed McLaren to the hilt. “We have a lot of sensors on the car and this team is very experienced in incidents and they – as with every team in Formula One – take every precaution possible in terms of safety.

“It’s one of those things, isn’t it? But after seeing the data and watching the steering trace, my view hasn’t changed from what it had when I saw the data initially. I feel comfortable getting into the car and driving it.”

So Jenson says – not a car fault. The implication being it was a driver error.

Fernando concluded by offering an olive branch to McLaren, “Some areas in the car instrumentation-wise that aren’t probably at the level to see this problem. A problem which may occur in this race. 20 years ago, F1 didn’t have that technology to spot that problem. Sure we are missing something in the data which we will spot in ten years’ time when there is more technology”

Yet he left his new team in no doubt whatsoever as to his position that the car was at fault adding, “I have zero doubt”.

McLaren would have hoped the return of a fit and healthy Fernando Alonso this weekend would put to bed the mystery surrounding what should have been a fairly innocuous incident in Barcelona. The reverse has happened.

Why Fernando is deliberately creating “friction” within the team is for now a matter of speculation. One theory would be, those within Woking who were opposed to signing Alonso are fighting some kind of rear guard action in an attempt to get the Spanish driver sidelined permanently on the grounds of long term medical doubts.

This story is not yet over – and it will rear its head again when the FIA publish their findings into the incident.

 

28 responses to “Divisions growing inside McLaren

  1. There was always the theory that Senna’s was Honda’s favourite son and Prost was McLaren’s. And who wanted Alonso back at McLaren? Honda? And which line does Button walk? McLaren’s?

    For one thing though (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), I’m on Alonso’s side on this. If there truly was a problem with the car, why admit that he’s at fault? Just to appease Ron?

    In any case, it seems that the battle lines have been drawn. But we won’t see much action because Macca is only fighting the Manors for now. If they were challenging for wins though, awesome, noone would care about the championship, only for Fred vs Ron, round 2. Even Mayweather and Pacquiao would gets seats for that!

    • didn’t ron side with senna when it came to the pole position in suzuka and later the crash with prost and sennas disqualification? or was that because by that time prost had already signed with ferrari?

      • I think that Ron was the exception in the McLaren organisation. That’s why I said the ‘theory’ was…

  2. For love god, will someone just stick him in a Williams it close and enough on pace for him to mount a title challenge and Frank wouldn’t take any of his rubbish and itd just work.

    • yes, if he had been smart he would have offered his services to any mercedes powered team. i think there was a rumor last year that he was looking at lotus, even with an option of buying into the team. he could have performed some of his magic there and maybe even challenged for wins, instead of battling for positions at the end of the grid. mclaren looks like the end of the road for alonso, i’m quite certain that relationship will deteriorate and that alonso won’t be driving for them by the end of the season. he didn’t really want to sign there, ron didn’t really want to sign him and their history is already charged. add a crap car into the mix, and you have an epic meltdown in the making. and that doesn’t even take account of the mysterious testing crash.

  3. I think you spell report “summary”, Lol! Shorter FIA “A Thing Happened. We hope it won’t happen again, and it’s like, totes not our fault”.

  4. It’s interesting him saying….

    “Sure we are missing something in the data which we will spot in ten years’ time when there is more technology”

    So to me he’s somewhat saying that Mclaren are hiding vital information from him and the media.

    I asked this question just now in the DN&C that I think was vital to all this.

    Why did he switch off the radio immediately after the crash?

    • Alonso’s “memory” of the entire event are odd in that they fly in the face of the reactions of the marshals and the first emergency responder to the scene. Alonso appeared wholly unresponsive and the marshals, after approaching Fernando and, seemingly, attempting to communicate with him/assess his condition, to a person, kicked into emergency mode. I don’t think this happens if Alonso is aware and responsive as he claims he was. And yet. He does seem to early remember what took him off the track in the first place.

      My first thought, believing Alonso’s memory of the event, is that he likely was disgusted about his steering – lack of – and didn’t want to hear a voice from the McLaren box. But, again, the post-crash videos seem to show he was immediately in bad shape.

      Alonso said, “After the hit, I was kissing the wall for a while, and then I switched off radio first and then I switched off the master switch for the batteries to switch off the ERS system because I saw the marshals were coming so they could touch the car. So I was perfectly conscious at that time.”

      Perhaps he managed to instinctively accomplish this task(?).

      Peripherally, but related… I also find it odd that McLaren summoned photographer Alessandro Salo to their box to review his photos of the crash. With the telemetry at hand, why would they need photos, unless they were immediately thinking about controlling the discourse surrounding the accident. And what of Jordi Vidal’s post-crash photo and before anyone arrived at his car, showing a clear burnt spot on Alonso’s car on the “Esso” sponsorship livery?!

      Mysteries continue to persist…

    • “Sure we are missing something in the data which we will spot in ten years’ time when there is more technology”

      I take that to mean that he thinks with today’s technology it was not possible to pinpoint the problem, but that in ten years time advances will have been made that enable such incidents to be fully captured and understood.

      I am inclined to believe McLaren on this story, and I think Fred is doing usual obfuscation stuff. He had ample opportunity to put a stop to all the stories about him thinking he was a Ferrari driver and speaking Itlaian, or that he was back in 1995.

      • “Fred is doing usual obfuscation stuff.”

        Yeah, Judge is making some good points, and Fred is already planting the seeds of discord by subterfuge. He obviously has no intention of taking 2 years to get to a winning car, so expect industrial-grade fireworks to ensue…

  5. Intrigue and controversy around Alonso? Shocking.

    Author might want to do a spell check. Noticed two glaring ones.

  6. “Why Fernando is deliberately creating “friction” within the team is for now a matter of speculation.”

    Let me fix that:
    “Why TheJudge13 is deliberately creating “friction” is a matter of speculation.”

    The Judge asked, “…why was Alonso airlifted to hospital following a relatively low speed crash in which he was not rendered unconscious?”

    Answer: The FIA sensor was triggered due to greater than 25G hit, and the trackside driver examination revealed symptoms of concussion.

    The Judge then stated, “… the Spaniard was questioned as to why the team had refused to accept this could have been a car failure, he replied: “Well, I don’t think that they say this anymore.”

    Three days prior to this, what McLaren actually said was, “While there was nothing evident in the extensive car telemetry data… Fernando recalls a sense of ‘heavy’ steering prior to the accident. Consequently, the team has fitted an additional sensor to the car, to increase our data capture.”

    Despite The Judge’s fictionalized statement here, what is clear is that McLaren did NOT refuse to accept this could have been a failure in the car. Not only did McLaren not say that, but their actions indicate the opposite. McLaren changed the steering system in Alonso’s car to different components. And McLaren have stated they added an additional sensor.

    If had McLaren refused to accept it was a car failure, they would’ve said so, and they would NOT have taken the actions which they have since done.

    Regarding Jenson, we know that:
    1) “Jenson looked at the (incident data) and said ‘well, that’s a bit strange'”
    2) Jenson wasn’t using the same system as Alonso
    3) Jenson was aware of McLaren’s analysis, and steps to determine the cause and prevent a problem from re-occurring.

    This article appears to be rather poorly crafted attempt to make a mountain from a molehill.

  7. “……. …. poorly crafted attempt to make a mountain from a molehill.”

    I agree with all you say above.

    However I do have one beef about Alonso – his recollection of events:
    Why did he not put an immediate stop to all the nonsense it( being 1995, him being in Ferrari and speaking Italian) as soon as it was printed? He says he was conscious – then why did he not attempt to get out of the car?
    Until I see a full timeline of the events published by the FIA, I cannot give much credence to the story as remembered by a driver who has been through a memory loss event.

  8. “Why TheJudge13 is deliberately creating “friction” is a matter of speculation.”

    Yeah, that was my first reaction to this piece. 🙂 And I concur with your points above.

    However, I feel the Judge is making some very subtle and pertinent observations. Fred indeed seems to be playing his usual obfuscation games, and already planting the seeds of discord by subterfuge. It’s almost as if he deliberately inserted confusing statements in the press conf.

    He says “I don’t know if you see the video but even a hurricane will not move the car at that speed.”, insinuating that there is a video that McLaren have reviewed but decided not to share with the others, when clearly there is NO video footage.

    He says “But definitely we had a steering problem in the middle of turn three.” while at the same time stating “there is not in the data anything clear that we can spot and we can say it was that, the reason.”

    Although nothing clearly contradicting itself, he raises more questions than answers, and this is the political minefield in which Fernando thrives… to turn teams against him…

    Let’s see when Honda have had enough of Fred’s Samurai wisdom… 🙂

  9. re Alonso mystery.

    Not much mention of it being the fault of Alonso. Perez, Maldonado, Vettel, Schumacher and others, have all gone sailing off the track, when they were adjusting settings on the steering wheel. Imagine how embarrassing it would be, for Alonso to have to admit what happened. New team, new car, partial unfamiliarity with systems, and it looks plausible.

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