Saturday, 4 August 2007

Alonso takes controversial pole

I thought I’d post a quick reflection on the Alonso incident while my blood is up before making a more measured response on the rest of qualifying later on.

A career in politics beckons for Alonso after he retires I think. No one spins events quite like him.

“The team was holding me back in the pit stops and we tried to have a bit of space on the track, especially to the Ferrari ahead of us," he said calmly in the press conference.

Firstly, for those who want to question the incident itself, make no mistake; this was not caused by the team. Even if there was a threat from Alonso being too close to the Ferrari, would Mclaren honestly choose to sacrifice their other driver and risk not locking out the front row?

His actions today were out of order but not the main thing I take issue with. In many ways it has made for a much more exciting spectacle tomorrow and should add a bit of spice to the Alonso-Hamilton rivalry.

What I do have a massive problem with is the way Alonso is always held up as this squeaky clean ‘people’s champion’, when in fact he is as ruthless and as underhanded as the rest of them, including Michael Schumacher.

On the subject of Schumacher, it is interesting to ask whether Alonso’s tactics today compared with the dominant interpretation of Schumacher’s notorious parking manoeuvre at La Rascasse, Monte-Carlo (incidentally I have other theories about this but won’t discuss them here).

Alonso’s move was more subtly executed but the outcome was the same, Hamilton’s lap was compromised.

Would Hamilton have taken pole? Barring a mistake, it was almost certain. The advantage from the fuel difference alone would have been enough let alone the increased grip from the track and the genuine pace advantage he had over his team-mate.

This aside, Hamilton fans should take comfort in the fact that, at this stage of the championship, he is almost certainly quicker than the Spaniard – probably the reason Alonso felt the need to do what he did.

True, Alonso raised his game at Magny Cours and Silverstone. But at the Nurburgring, Hamilton was the fastest man on the track by far – go and have a look at the race lap times. And today he genuinely looked the quicker of the two Mclarens.

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