Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are not friends, which is Formula One common knowledge. Alonso had just won back to back F1 driver world titles when he jumped ship from Renault to drive for McLaren in 2007. The Woking based team had sacked June Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen had left for Ferrari, so Alonso was joined by rookie Lewis Hamilton for the 2007 Formula One season.
Fernando Alonso has just made an explosive claim diminishing Hamilton’s title achievements but to understand why Lewis and Fernando don’t get along well we need to return to 2007.
Seeds of Hamilton and Alonso’s beef
Hamilton had been a test driver for the team since 2004 and so understood how the McLaren car handled more quickly than Alonso. While Fernando finished ahead of Lewis at the season opener and won. The next round in Malaysia, Hamilton was the more consistent driver finishing each of the first 4 rounds on the podium.
By round 5 in Monaco, McLaren brought its first upgraded front wing which appeared to hamper Alonso’s driving style more than Fernando’s. Alonso did though win the race but team boss Ron Dennis commented he felt it should have been Hamilton’s first race win.
That would’ve clearly irritated Fernando.
The next McLaren MP4/22 upgrade came in Canada and again this favoured the British driver more than the Spaniard.
But it was at the Hungarian GP where the bubbling tensions exploded.
Anger boils over at Hungarian GP
During Qualifying 1, Lewis was instructed to allow Fernando by to give him ‘clean air’ for a push run. Hamilton refused setting the fastest time so in Q2 Fernando decided to ensure he got the clean air he required by hook or by crook.
Fernando pitted for fresh tyres with about 2:30 remaining, Hamilton came in behind him but Fernando waited for over 30 seconds after his tyres had been fitted before leaving the pit box so Hamilton was ‘stacked’ behind all that time and made to wait.
Alonso started his last flying lap of there session with just 2 seconds on the clock and Lewis missed out on a final run b y around 5 seconds.
Alonso went on to claim pole, though the stewards in Q3 relegating Hamilton to second.
Dennis favoured Hamilton
TV pictures showed an angry Ron Dennis throwing down his headphones as Alonso left the pit lane in Q2 though he refused to comment on the matter bar stating that Hamilton had refused team orders in Q1 at the start of the “fuel burn phase” which then put the cars out of sequence for their stops.
Nobody knows whether Dennis initiated the following but the race stewards investigated Alonso’s pit lane delay relating him 5 places for the start of the race which of course promoted Hamilton to pole.
When joining McLaren as the newly crowned double world champion Alonso would have expected Hamilton to be forced to support him at times. Yet Dennis refused to force Lewis to play second fiddle even to an ‘all time great’.
The McLaren MP4/22 was probably the quickest of the season, but McLaren by refusing to employ team orders saw their drivers regularly taking points from each other while Kimi Raikonnen stole a march on them both.
Its alleged at the penultimate round at the 2007 Chinese GP Ron Dennis was heard to say, “we’re not fighting Kimi Raikonnen, we’re fighting Alonso.”
McLaren blow the 2007 title
Kimi won the final two rounds and claimed the drivers’ title 1 point ahead of both Hamilton and Alonso.
Despite being contracted for the following season, McLaren and Alonso parted ways.
13 years later at the Brazilian GP, Alonso was asked about his memories of the 2007 season.
“As I said many times, I don’t think that we were very well managed that year.
“We had a very competitive package, but we managed to lose against the Ferraris. They were fast, yes, but I don’t think as fast as we were. But yeah, we were, as I said, not well managed.”
Alonso expected number 1 status
It must still hurt Fernando that almost any other team would have probably made him the number one driver when the fight with Raikonnen and Ferrari heated up. But its a title that got away from Alonso and the Ron Dennis favouritism of his young protege will have earned Lewis with no favours with the Spaniard.
Earlier this season, Fernando called Lewis an idiot for colliding with him at the Belgian GP. Both rivals started on the second row of the grid, but as the pair reached Les Coombes lewis attempted to
go around the outside of his former McLaren team-mate, but a heavy whack would lift Hamilton’s Mercedes off the ground.
An unimpressed Alonso reported over team radio, “What an idiot closing the door from the outside,” Alonso vented. “I mean, we had a mega start but this guy only knows how to drive and start in first.”
Bitterness continues to this day
Hamilton was forced to retire his Mercedes and Fernando eventually finished P5.
After Lewis accepted in the media pen the accidents all his fault, Fernando later apologised for calling Hamilton an “idiot”.
Yet Fernando is stirring the flames again in Mexico with an explosive claim about the value of Lewis Hamilton’s 7 F1 world titles. Following Verstappen claiming his second title last time out in Austin, Fernando commented the Dutch driver could go on to be the greatest of all time – a title Hamilton fas attribute to him.
In Mexico Fernando again comments on Verstappen’s success and admits he is a fan of the Dutch champion.
“There was a lot of criticism at the beginning that Verstappen already had a seat as a seventeen-year-old,” Alonso told De Telegraaf.
Alonso a Max Verstappen fan
“I thought that was nonsense. We shouldn’t judge drivers by their age. If they are doing better than others, why shouldn’t they be allowed to race in Formula 1?
“I actually liked the fact that we had such a young driver on the grid.”
Fernando believes Verstappen’s titles hold more value than Hamilton’s for the following reason.
“I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but still it is different when you win seven world titles when you only had to fight with your teammate,” said Alonso
“Then I think a championship has less value than when you have fewer titles but have had to fight against other drivers with equal or even better material.
“In 2005 and 2006, I had a good start to the year myself and was able to create a lead. Then others might have had a better car, but I was able to manage that gap.
Hamilton’s titles not of equal value
“I never had to fight with my teammate to win those titles. Nor did I see Max fighting with [Sergio] Perez or [Alex] Albon to win races.
“But Schumacher in particular fought with his teammate to become champion five times in a row and Hamilton fought with Rosberg and [Valtteri] Bottas. That’s different, I think.”
Of course Fernando’s comments will inevitably relayed to Lewis by some paddock reporter hoping to create a rift.
Yet Alonso’s words are clear there is still no love lost between himself and Lewis Hamilton and is just the latest episode – but surely not the last – which stokes the war of words dating back to the events of 2007.
We've seen this somewhere before….👀
— Formula 1 (@F1) October 29, 2022