Posted on May 7, 2009
Alonso gives Hamilton a dose of reality | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

Today had two distinct parts for Lewis Hamilton, but they both had to do with breaking eggs. In the morning he took part in a Vodafone promotion whereby the public challenged him to do something and he ended up making a spanish omelette. I know, it’s not an obvious pr activity for a Formula 1 driver, but it’s better than being suspended on a harness above a stage, as he was in Turkey last year, again by Vodafone.

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In the afternoon he realised the truth of the saying “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”, as the fall out continued from his attempts to lie to the stewards in Melbourne in order to gain the podium place ahead of Jarno Trulli. He was asked in the press conference what he planned to do to repair his image after people like Stirling Moss said they felt let down by what had happened.

Hamilton had seemed uncomfortable from the start of the press conference, stroking his forearm constantly, as if reassuring himself. He knew he was going to get some of these questions, because he had ducked them at the omelette event in the morning, saying he was only there to talk about Vodafone.

“I’m just going to carry on being me, ” he said, quietly. “I’ll remain humble. People will get to know me and understand that I am actually a good person.”

Sitting next to him was Fernando Alonso, his former team mate from 2007 and this is where things got really interesting. To start with Alonso spoke of the great respect he has for Hamilton as a driver and how much he appreciated the level they pushed each other to that year.

“I was in McLaren one season, I had no problem with Lewis,” he said. “We had a very good competition which helped us to find our limits and I can say that I miss that competition in a way, it was fun to push and find new limits in ourselves. ”
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So far so Prost and Senna, but without the unpleasantness. But then Alonso twisted the knife a little and Hamilton looked stunned,

“Lewis has always been a great driver, a great champion. To help his reputation, which is damaged now, will be very easy, if he keeps winning he will make people happy, his supporters and that is a very important thing.”

It was only a fleeting moment, but it looked like Alonso saying, so publicly that Hamilton was damaged by what had happened, made it seem more real to Lewis all of a sudden. I’m sure he wasn’t in denial about it, but it is the way of sportsmen to park negative things out of their minds and somehow this brought it all to the surface again.

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  1.   1. Posted By: Nat McBride Lockwood
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 5:10 pm 

    I don’t like Alonso, he’s full of nasty attacks, but I also knew Lewis was never as squeaky clean as some liked to make out. For once, I think Alonso is right, and as much as his words a little tongue in cheek- I think it was also a small olive branch. People will forget and if Lewis starts to win again, he won people over once, he will do it again.

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  2.   2. Posted By: Joe
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 5:11 pm 

    What I can not understand is how Alonso got away with the whole spy-gate issue?
    From what I had read he was aware of some of the Ferrari data along with Pedro De La Rosa but neither seemed to get any blame.

    So why is such a fuss being made with Lewis when none was made with Alonso?

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  3.   3. Posted By: Marilyn
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 5:40 pm 

    Was Lewis really stunned to hear his reputation had been damaged by the lie-gate? Did he need Alonso to tell him that?
    I don’t think so, he has not been living in a bubble for the last month or so, the press have made sure of that. Any how, Alonso was right, once he starts winning again, the press will move on from it, and let Lewis move on too.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Al
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 5:56 pm 

    James, I’m surprised you thought that Alonso was in some way twisting the knife. You’ve always said he’s a very honest and forthright individual who says things as he sees it.

    In 2007 and after, it was Alonso who was very much the one with the damaged reputation, coming from Mclaren; and is he really so out of line stating the obvious by saying Lewis is damaged? If anything, it was like he was using his own experiences to give Lewis a bit of friendly advice, and in Alonso’s odd and awkward way he was being supportive.

    I think you’ve done Alonso a bit of disservice to suggest it was underhanded when he has nothing to gain or lose by doing so, and trying to publicly patch things up with Lewis. In fact, they both have…

    I don’t doubt Lewis would have been stunned by it; in fact from day 1 I almost feel Lewis immensely looks up to Alonso, in a way Alonso did and does Schumacher, despite being the bitter rival. I believe he probably didn’t expect a comment like that in that moment in front of everyone, but that it came from Alonso would have hit a nerve….but I don’t think in a negative way.

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  5.   5. Posted By: Suzy
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:14 pm 

    I think you are reading a bit too much into it, James.

    On the other hand, “damaged reputation”, so what? Many great drivers had a damaged reputation at some point of their careers. Alonso too had it in 2007. It’s not that tragic. People will forget and move on. The media should by now too, IMO. Of course, it gives the critics ammunition and they may repetadly bring it up, like they always did in Schumacher’s case, even 10-15 years after it happened, but it didn’t stop Michael from having a massive fan base and being the most popular driver of his era. So thing is, no matter what you do or don’t do you will always have critics who will focus on the negative in you. But drivers shouldn’t focus on those people but on those who support them.

    PS: I had to laugh at it when Alonso said he enjoyed the competition with Lewis in 2007. Do you remember his face back then? It was everything but pleasure written on it. LOL!

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  6.   6. Posted By: alex m
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:32 pm 

    Alonso is just playing games… again, just after it looked like he had stopped and grown up a little. Maybe the Ferrari contract is not as concrete as the Spanish media would like or he realises that the great lie about his own ‘six tenths of a second’ car development skills and Lewis’ equal lack of, is looking seriously stupid now ?

    Trying to suggest that Lewis has ‘fanboy’ type suporters who are only interested in seeing him when he wins is patently laughable. Lewis has gained many new fans this year by racing a mediocre car to great results, whereas Alonso’s fanbase is generally far more of the hysterical nationalist variety that only turns up when he is winning.

    Will FA qualify with a few laps of fuel in tomorrow, like he did last year ? Does “if he keeps winning he will make people happy, his supporters and that is a very important thing” sound just a touch autobiographical ?

    I think he knows Vettel will now get the Ferrari seat, Alonso is the one with the ‘damaged reputation’ … and we know Ferrari and others are way of his fragile ego. He cheated Lewis, McLaren, F1 and all us fans AND tried to keep the data and benifit from a frighteningly fast Lewis, time to grow up you silly little man.

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  7.   7. Posted By: Dominic J
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:39 pm 

    I agree with commenters saying that it wasn’t as big a deal as you are making out. He only said what he felt was widespread public opinion (and it is). Hamilton’s reaction is more interesting than Alonso “turning the knife” (far too strong a term for what you quote as being said).

    I wonder how Nelsinho feels, when his Alonso claims to “miss the competition” with a teammate. Any rumours going around about his future?

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  8.   8. Posted By: Jon
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:45 pm 

    Things change Suzy, a year with a few years with an uncompetitive car and a snail as a teammate (can’t even race his teammate) can mature someone’s perspective, I believe the same happened with Button.

    That’s not to say that Alonso is suddenly a saint. He still loves the cheap shots and said this beauty a few weeks ago..

    Q: On the 29th of April McLaren will appear in front of the WMSC for having lied. What’s your take on that ?

    Alonso: ”I left that team because my philosophy isn’t the same as theirs. In the last three years they’ve spent more time in Paris than at the trackside.”

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  9.   9. Posted By: adrian
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:47 pm 

    Excellent article, James, if I may say so.

    The question that was put to Alonso was “In the same spirit, Fernando, you drove for a year with Lewis. I was just wondering if maybe, in order to aid Lewis moving on, you might be able to say some generous words about Lewis the sportsman?” – no doubt with the intention of provoking some ungenerous words.

    Alonso’s response was extremely deft – no generous words whatsoever about Lewis the sportsman with the stilletto-thrust “reputation, *which is damaged now*”. NB too the “if he starts winning” with the implication that if he does not start winning, which he does not look like doing at the moment, he’ll be both liar and a loser.

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  10.   10. Posted By: Nick Gilmartin
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:50 pm 

    I regret to say that Fernando lost all my respect in 2007. Such a talent carrying on like Elton John on his period is never a pretty sight.

    I love Fernando’s revisionist view of the 2007 season. ‘Oh, me and Lewis had great respect’. Yeah, we saw the races remember?

    Spain has never been kind to Lewis, and he knew this weekend would be rough. All he can do is find a way to tough it out.

    http://www.nickgilmartin.wordpress.com

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  11.   11. Posted By: Mooks
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:53 pm 

    A dose of reality it is. I don’t think Alonso is bringing up any negative energy out of that quote, just being realistic.

    Hamilton cannot talk his way out of what he (and team) brought himself into in Melbourne, he has to show, even with a car that isn’t as competitive as last year, what he can do with it.

    Alonso proved that at the end of last season, that he could still shine. Maybe it’s Hamilton’s turn to take Alonso’s 2008 ‘seat’ for this season.

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  12.   12. Posted By: EC
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:56 pm 

    I think Alonso’s comment was quite astute and not necessarily a “twisting of the knife”. In the eyes of the general public, Hamilton will probably be forgiven if he returns to winning, because most people love a winner and will forgive much on account of this.

    One thing Alonso left unsaid was how incredibly important it will be for Hamilton to distance himself
    from even a hint of questionable conduct from now on, whether it is his own conduct or that of his team.

    In my opinion, if McLaren ask Hamilton to involve himself in any more “funny business”, Hamilton should quit the team that very second. There are things more important than money, and honor is one of those things. Were Hamilton to quit the team
    under such circumstances, it would be a powerful statement on his part, and the F1 world, as well as the rest of the world, would likely view him favorably if he quit under such circumstances.

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  13.   13. Posted By: Colin S
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 6:57 pm 

    To be fair, Alonso looking back can do so with a much more sober mind than the irrational (qv Pat Symonds) one he would have had during 2007 for every moment that he was behind Lewis on the track or in the championship.

    This doesn’t sound to me like a knife twist but a reality check. I think perhaps ‘knife twisting’ is a little emotive but…having said that…James was there and could see how it was said so maybe…

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  14.   14. Posted By: Ross Evans
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 7:01 pm 

    It is interesting that in the press conference statement on the official website it quotes a slightly different wording:

    “…so I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning.”

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  15.   15. Posted By: Northern Munkee
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 7:25 pm 

    +1 what do you expect Alonso to say when asked a question effectively about Hamilton, with him in the room. never going to be easy one to answer and he’s not going to slag himself off, and say it was his fault. Seems a fairly harmless to me, even if we believe 07 was Alonso’s doing.

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  16.   16. Posted By: Don
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 7:31 pm 

    Alonso preaching to Lewis about his reputation being fixable…. how dare he! This is coming from the guy that apparently threathened to blackmail Ron Dennis/McLaren in 2007!

    Ok Lewis was caught during the lie-gate episode… but what driver hasn’t been caught bending the truth a little?

    The rumor that Alonso may have already signed a contract with Ferrari for 2010 or 2011 fills me with disgust.

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  17.   17. Posted By: Mari
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 7:59 pm 

    It wasn’t Alonso that brought up the term ‘damage’, rather it was a journalist’s question. Here’s the transcript from the F1 website with the question to Hamilton and the subsequent question to Alonso:

    “Q: (Ian Parkes – PA) Lewis, in terms of going forward, in terms of repairing the damage done to your reputation over the last few weeks, is there anything that you can feel that you can do personally to aid that cause, in particular when such luminaries as Stirling Moss claim they felt let down by what had happened in Australia and Malaysia?
    LH: Not really. I think I just need to get on with my job and keep being me; remain humble, just try to continue to do a good job and I hope that over the course of some time people will get to know exactly who I am and understand that I am in actual fact a good person. I do what I do because I love it.

    Q: (Jon McEvoy – The Daily Express) In the same spirit, Fernando, you drove for a year with Lewis. I was just wondering if maybe, in order to aid Lewis moving on, you might be able to say some generous words about Lewis the sportsman?
    FA: I’ve always said the same thing. I was a season at McLaren and I had no real problems with Lewis. We had a good competition which helped each other to find our limits. I can say that maybe I am missing that competition in a way because, as I said, it was quite fun to really push and find new limits from ourselves. The problems I had there were with the big bosses and the philosophy of the team, so I decided to move on from that period of my career but Lewis has always been a great driver, a great champion, fighting for the World Championship in his first season in Formula One, winning in the second season, so I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning. He will make people happy, his supporters and that’s a very important thing, doing our job. The maximum we can do is driving the car, winning races, winning championships. This is the best thing you can do.”

    PS: It is interesting that the Autosport website interpreted Alonso’s reply as jumping to Hamilton’s defence, quite a different interpretation from yours. Maybe Hamilton was surprised that Alonso was saying such nice things about him, and even showing some nostalgia!

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  18.   18. Posted By: Chris Haye
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 8:19 pm 

    I think Fernando was just being honest, hardly “twisting the knife”. The point he was trying to make was that the press will soon forget about the non-event* that was ‘lie-gate’ if Lewis keeps churning out good performances.

    *For the record, I think the event was a non-event, rather than the fallout, which was first rate, premium, big-top action!

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  19.   19. Posted By: vicweir
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 8:30 pm 

    I’ve long felt that the 24 year old Fernando Alonso was the chosen role model in many ways for Lewis Hamilton as he was turned and moulded by older men for presentation to the world 2-3 years ago.

    The difference was and is that Alonso is his own man, but for Hamilton it appears that he’s been stranded high and dry by events, both of his own and others’ making, struggling to find his own personality, dutifully repeating the messages others have given him. That is not to let him off the hook. He cheated in word and deed and that’s that; he must take responsibility for it. Burbling about being humble and misled is foolish and immature. Humble? I think he’s confusing the act of grovelling with feeling honestly contrite.

    Alonso, I’d guess, was speaking rather cynically, but correctly, in suggesting that the status quo would be restored if he started winning races again. Fine, if that’s all Hamilton wants. Alonso also said that Michael Schumacher was a great driver but not a great sportsman. He himself, seems always to have wanted to be both. 2007 was an appalling set-back to him in that ambition, not just in losing a world championship but, under considerable provocation, temporarily losing his basic self belief. F1 gives short shrift to youthful notions of ‘honour’.

    Perhaps Hamilton might borrow some more leaves from his original role model’s book. Unless winning is sufficient for him. Could be.

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  20.   20. Posted By: Ben
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 8:33 pm 

    Poor journalism James:

    What you quoted:

    “Lewis has always been a great driver, a great champion. To help his reputation, which is damaged now, will be very easy, if he keeps winning he will make people happy, his supporters and that is a very important thing.”

    What was actually said:

    Lewis has always been a great driver, a great champion, fighting for the world championship in his first season in Formula 1, winning in the second season, so I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning.

    “He will make people happy, his supporters and that’s a very important thing, doing our job. The maximum we can do is driving the car, winning races, winning championships. This is the best thing you can do.”

    You have selectively quoted to fit the agenda of your headline and the notion that Alonso was in some way ‘twisting the knife’. He didn’t even refer to it as ‘his’ (ie hamilton’s) reputation. Also, by omitting the word ‘whatever’ in his reference to Hamilton’s reputation, you make Alonso much more definitive. He actually sounds a little off hand about it and not entirely convinced it is Hamilton’s reputation that needs to be mended. This is the worst type of hackery that I always believed you were above.

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  21.   21. Posted By: S-e
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 8:45 pm 

    I feel like there’re lots of Brits around here who really don’t care too much for Alonso :-/

    Both Hamilton and Alonso are great drivers, they both respect and recongnize each other and everything James did is giving his impressions about Hamilton reaction to what Alonso said, totally unexpected and his sudden realization of the situation or whatever went through Hamilton’s mind.

    At least that’s the way I understood it and I sincerely appreciate this approach, I’ve got a clear picture of what the reaction was from James’ eyes and probably now we all know Lewis a little bit more. Great job James!!!

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  22.   22. Posted By: pSynrg
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 8:52 pm 

    I have to agree with Al & Suzy here. If anyone is guilty of red top tactics and a stoking of the rivalry fire it’s you James.
    Fernando is an acquired taste but I absolutely love the guy and especially the driver. I felt his comments regarding Lewis were decent and above all honest given the questions.
    It certainly did not comes across as a twisting of a proverbial knife. Simply acknowledgement of the reality of the situation.

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  23.   23. Posted By: Nikki
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 8:52 pm 

    James! You’ve taken what Fernando said out of context AND misquoted him. Shocking. (unless the Official F1 site is misquoting it’s own drivers)

    Your version : “…to help his reputation, which is damaged now, will be very easy”

    F1.com’s version : “so I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning.”

    A little less direct, a little kinder.

    Not a HUGE Alonso fan, but have respect for the fact that he has, from pretty much day one, stuck by the fact that it was not Hamilton he had the problem with, but the team. No matter how many people try and turn it into a Hamilton vs Alonso war, Alonso has always maintained it was not Lewis he fell out with.

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  24.   24. Posted By: Peter Freeman
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 9:12 pm 

    Hahaha! I agree Alonso did NOT look like he was enjoying the competition in 2007!

    On the other hand I also think Alonso is speaking from his own experience and being supportive. It is nice to see!

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  25.   25. Posted By: radifan
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 9:30 pm 

    No other rookie has stepped so hard and so quick into the world of formula 1 than has Lewis.

    Why should it be a surprise that there is so much noise surrounding him??

    On the contrary, I firmly believe that the saying:”there is no bad PR” strongly applies to him. Lewis gets more and more fans each day and after each “fair” penalty from FIA.

    Hamilton star is still on the rise and fast:)

    cheers

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  26.   26. Posted By: Veck
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 9:40 pm 

    Alonso said:

    ‘…so I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning’

    So I think you’re slighting twisting his words. I think Fernando’s answer was really nice to Hamilton. I was really surprised and happy he said that.

    Great blog by the way!

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  27.   27. Posted By: PaulL
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 9:49 pm 

    It seemed to be just Alonso’s usual straight down the line truth-speak as to how he sees things. As James says he doesn’t do PR-speak all that much. I don’t think there’s any sense in over-analysing what he said to be twisting the knife, it was just an honest call.

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  28.   28. Posted By: Jason
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 10:34 pm 

    This is how I took it too, but only from having seen transcripts of the interaction and not the video. In person, I imagine it could be perceived entirely differently, but I do believe that Al has hit the nail on the head here.

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  29.   29. Posted By: monktonnin
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 10:39 pm 

    I too am surprised with your analysis James. The words actually sound almost supportive.

    The question is: what body language and signals are we missing that you saw in the flesh?

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  30.   30. Posted By: monktonnin
        Date: May 7th, 2009 @ 11:16 pm 

    Maybe Nelsinho will be the next person to be tipped for Ferrari.

    Not a bad thing if it does for him what it did for Massa!

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  31.   31. Posted By: Snail
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 12:04 am 

    And the evidence for your opinion is where?

    I can’t say (as someone that is English by birth and lives in the UK) that I’ve noticed an increase in LH following due to his McLaren car, neither can I say that I believe that the Latin temperament would lead Spanish folk to support Alonso just becuse he is winning.

    Your comments are pure nationalist bigotry through and through.[moderated] Less of that please and more insight, thank you very much,

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  32.   32. Posted By: Snail
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 12:06 am 

    Hopefully, Piquest feels that his time is up. It is. He was never suitable materail for the grid and has spent far too much time in an environment he is not suited for.

    Time for Mr Briatore to press the large red ejector seat button.

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  33.   33. Posted By: Snail
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 12:11 am 

    The rumor that Alonso may have already signed a contract with Ferrari for 2010 or 2011 fills me with disgust.

    Why? Its a rumour. And even if true, so what, what is disgusting about planning your future?

    Seriously, I’d be interested to know.

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  34.   34. Posted By: Dubliner
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 12:41 am 

    To Alex m:

    Who do you think you are to put tags in Alonso and Hamilton fans? And how that could be right? From where is coming your moral superiority to speak like that? It´s difficult to say so many silly things in such little space. Good thing about that is: people being so irrationally bitter with Alonso, makes me think he´s a real number 1.

    Great blog full of clever and reasoned opinions!

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  35.   35. Posted By: hassan
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 2:58 am 

    Common james, I know the majority of the people who read your blog are English but that’s not a reason for you to take a dig at Alonso . Please everyone read the official press conference answer and how James Allen has interpreted it.

    He never said that Lewis’s reputation is damaged now.

    Great blog apart from this

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  36.   36. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 3:39 am 

    JA responds: I’m sorry but he quite clearly said that Hamilton’s reputation has been damaged now. The official version is not accurate in that it omits the word ‘now’.

    For the record, listening back to the tape of the Alonso speech, he says “I think to really help the reputation or whatever has been damaged now, I think will be very easy if he keeps winning.”

    I was going off my written notes, where I had anotated the above as ‘wh bn dmged now’, so apologies for subsitituting ‘which’ for ‘whatever’ – beyond that there is no misquoting going on here and the meaning is quite clear. The sense of what Alonso is saying is exactly the same in both versions, which is that Hamilton’s reputation is damaged now, but that he will easily repair that if he keeps on winning. There is no ‘out of context’ about it, no twisting of words.

    Bear in mind that I was sitting on the front row of this conference and saw the looks and body language which accompanied all the things that were said. Hamilton spoke very respectfully about Alonso, when asked about being honoured by the circuit this weekend he spoke about the honour of standing next to great champion like Fernando and so on.

    Alonso on the one hand, is responding in kind, but the point I am making in this post is that he publicly says that Hamilton’s reputation is damaged and hearing this caught Hamilton out, What you haven’t seen is the look in Lewis’ eyes when he said that.

    I am in no way twisting words to fit a headline here. That’s not my style. I observed something very subtle and human, which you will not get from an official transcript (especially one which omits key words) and reported it.

    Nor am I having a dig at Alonso. I discussed this incident afterwards with colleagues who had been sitting around me and those who had noticed Lewis’ look, felt the same way.

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  37.   37. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 3:48 am 

    Nikki, please see my response elsewhere on this string. The official transcript omits the word ‘now’.

    It is one of those, ‘you had to be there’ moments. A very subtle human exchange that you will not get from reading a transcript.

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  38.   38. Posted By: James Allen
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 3:52 am 

    JA responds: Ben, please see my response elsewhere on this string. Of course Alonso is talking about Hamilton’s reputation, who else’s reputation could he be referring to in that context? And his meaning is 100% clear. With respect, I was there, front row, saw the body language and the reaction and I know both of these characters well. Lewis was surprised.

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  39.   39. Posted By: Kenny
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 5:23 am 

    It seems that most readers understand this piece to be about Alonso’s comments on Hamilton’s reputation. I thought it was about Hamilton’s physical reaction to those comments. To be honest, it all seems like a non-story to me.

    We (the fans) need to cut the drivers some slack when reading statements they make at these press conferences. Some of the reporters are trying very hard to put words in their mouths, to manufacture some controversy- it’s a bit like negotiating a minefield for the drivers.

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  40.   40. Posted By: Jim
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 6:22 am 

    James, interesting observation. But wouldn’t you agree (and I’ve read the full transcript, including Ian Parkes’ damaged reputation question to Lewis which preceded Alonso’s answer) that Alonso was basically fully supportive of Lewis?

    In fact, it seems that Alonso addresses the elephant in the room (Lewis reputation) in order to head it off, basically telling him indirectly to “hang in there and drive.”

    You do make it sound like Alonso was buttering up Lewis for the sucker punch…don’t know if that was your intent, but I think that’s clearly not the case.

    For the record, I sport neither driver. I support the Los Angeles Lakers.

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  41.   41. Posted By: pSynrg
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 7:15 am 

    Thanks for your response and explanation James. The whole story though comes across very differently when reading Jonathan Noble of Autosport’s version of events.
    But you are different journo’s and of course a different take on events is essential with this in mind.
    Just one question at this point if you don’t mind (sorry if I don’t have enough time to look back). How has your own personal opinion of Lewis Hamilton developed with recent events?

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  42.   42. Posted By: alex m
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 8:12 am 

    I am English, but live in Catalunya, speak Spanish and some Catalan and have plenty of friends amongst the locals, so can claim to understand the current flavours of Spanish nationalism pretty well. It has nothing to do with ‘Latin temprament’ but a lot to do with the National psyche.

    The Spanish are very divided, the Autonomous regions as well as other historic borders and divisions have created a modern nation that very rarely unites. Support for champion sportsmen who win, they somehow become ‘Spanish’ and rarely wave regional flags. You rarely see Alonso himself with an Asturian flag, only Spanish ones, likewise Pedrosa and Lorenzo do not parade Catalan flags.

    My comments about Spanish F1 fans also hold true, almost all are very much the tabloid-fed Nationalist flag wavers who know little of the sport. Go and look at AS and Marca’s forums, users there regularly post deranged rubbish as well as blatantly racist abuse, totally unchecked by their peers.

    It is not nice, but it is the truth.

    [Reply]


  43.   43. Posted By: Red Andy
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 8:53 am 

    James, I thought this was (as ever) an excellent article, which gave us a perspective on the driver’s press conference that no transcript or filtered newspaper report could. You were there, any reasonable person would trust your judgement. I think too many people let emotions get in the way when it comes to Alonso and Hamilton.

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  44.   44. Posted By: *Paul_W*
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 9:08 am 

    That sounds fair enough to me, reading transcripts can paint a different picture, body language speaks volumes.

    One quick, slightly OT point, some folks seem to have presumed that James is writing pro-British driver blog (due to this post) but one must not forget that unlike many other sports people don’t necessarily follow home grown drivers in F1.

    E.g. Of all my friends who follow F1 only three support a British driver, 2 long term F1 fans support Button and one F1 part-time fan supports Hamilton. The most commonly supported driver in F1 amongst my friends is Kimi by a country mile, and prior to that it was Schumacher. So perhaps the media should keep that in mind, as it really is evident that F1 isn’t like football, you don’t necessarily support your local team.

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  45.   45. Posted By: jed
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 9:46 am 

    Hamilton does have a damaged reputation right now together with his whole team. This is all due to how they handled liargate. Until now i feel sorry for david ryan who, although as guilty as hamilton, was made the scapegoat.
    This pampering of Mclaren towards hamilton, in my opinion, damaged his reputation more. Had they admitted fault as a team at that stage, i don’t think hamiltons reputation would be as damaged as it is now.

    [Reply]


  46.   46. Posted By: Finn
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 10:38 am 

    I think Alonso is just being straight …. honesty in F1, whatever next?

    Actually, it could be read as an overture to welcome Lewis to join him at Ferrari.

    [Reply]


  47.   47. Posted By: Spike
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 10:41 am 

    Man there is a lot of sensitive Hamilton fans here. Cant you just accept that James Allen was there and you were not? And Lewis reputation IS damaged. It doesnt matter who says it, its a fact.

    [Reply]


  48.   48. Posted By: Grabyrdy
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 11:32 am 

    “whatever” is quite important, I think. It shows that Fernando is using other people’s (mostly journalists’) words when he says “reputation or whatever”. Can I suggest also that it may not have occurred to Alonso that Lewis could imagine that he was out of the events in Oz squeaky clean ? Surely it’s as plain as the nose on his face. If Lewis was disturbed to hear it said just shows the fantasy-world he’s perhaps still in – that McL has always allowed him to live in.

    I still think Lewis had a fantastic opportunity to drive against Fernando in his first season, but McL abnegated their responsability to both drivers with their blatant favouritism towards Lewis, which in the end did him no favours. Fernando is perfectly aware of this, and refuses, still, to turn Lewis into an enemy. That seems to me correct and respectful behaviour which does him credit.

    [Reply]


  49.   49. Posted By: SeaDog
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 11:37 am 

    Wow, everybody has their knives out. This post illustrates both the passion and fickleness of F1 fans. Seems you have upset a few people with this one James!

    I read the story as it was, press conference and reported views, which I thought were not really contentious, the story being more of a human nature between two fencing partners.

    Perhaps people need to remember reading a transcript is very unreliable in judging content and intent, especially from someone not speaking in their native tongue.

    Communication is roughly 75% non vocal, you learn much more from physical tells than words can ever portray, especially with someone like Lewis, who I still believe comes accross as fairly niave and unsure in unstaged interviews, at times. Remember DC and JB easily sandbagging him last year, albeit lighthearted.

    I hope to see the video but I think we should take the story for what it is and cut down on the flaming.

    Good blog James, one of the best covering F1!

    [Reply]


  50.   50. Posted By: Grabyrdy
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 11:42 am 

    Well put Jim. Agree with every word (except the last sentence of course).

    [Reply]


  51.   51. Posted By: Gareth
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 12:29 pm 

    I think using the phrase “twisting the knife” was, perhaps, an error as that does come across as having a dig at Alonso by suggesting he intended to make Hamilton feel uncomfortable whereas, it seems to me from the tone of his entire statement, he was actually trying to do the opposite.

    [Reply]


  52.   52. Posted By: F1 fan
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 1:35 pm 

    Alonso didn’t do anything like it again, so people forget. Most people started to forget 07 until what happened in Oz.

    [Reply]


  53.   53. Posted By: Peter Freeman
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 2:29 pm 

    Gareth what James is saying is the Alonso DID want to have a dig at Hamilton. James is giving us his personal perspective having observed the exchange first hand and from his actual personal knowledge of each of these individuals.

    What James saw was Alonso deliberately take the opportunity to openly state that damage has been done to Lewis and that this caught Lewis out, thats what the article is about.

    Your interpretation of the tone of what Alonso was saying is the same as mine was when I first read this, but James is giving us insight and understanding here that we would not otherwise get, which is why I love this blog! James gives us insight and understanding that no other reporter of ANY kind gives us.

    [Reply]


  54.   54. Posted By: Radoye
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 2:58 pm 

    @ Gareth – i too am inclined to see this “incident” in a similar fashion, it’s just Nando trying to make friends with Lewis in his usual clumsy-with-words way. We must keep in mind that English is not his first language and sometimes finer points might come across in a way that was not intended. Having said that, there’s no reason to disbelieve James and his impression of the effect Nando’s words – having been uttered the way they were – had on Lewis there and then. James was there and had a clear view of it all.

    [Reply]


  55.   55. Posted By: Bashar
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 5:36 pm 

    James – I like your blog, and I think you are one of the best F1 journalists out there, but I have to point out a couple of things; first, claiming that the official site had omitted the word ‘now’ as an excuse for your incorrect transcription of the exchange is not an excuse. There is a clear difference between your original transcription and your post audio-recording one, and that difference carries an the underlying intent

    Furthermore, claiming that ‘all your colleagues agreed with you’ is an unfair method of silencing critics. Also, if your colleagues supposedly agreed with you, where are there reports indicating so? Most reporting from that interview has been overwhelmingly positive.

    I don’t mean to be obsessing over minutiae, but when someone of your journalistic stature claims that a driver with an established history of perceived acrimony with another is ‘twisting the knife’, it only furthers that perception among us observers.

    Cheers!

    [Reply]


  56.   56. Posted By: mingojo
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 6:00 pm 

    And I think he is right. MM was accused of having Ferrari confidential data. Fernando has also stated that his problems in MM was with Ron Dennis no Lewis.

    [Reply]


  57.   57. Posted By: Ben
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 6:03 pm 

    James, the changing of “whatever” to “which” does make a very big difference. By saying “the damage to his reputation or whatever” Alonso is effectively brushed it aside. Making a generic, casual thing of it.
    When people use the phrase “or whatever” after something they are making the preceding comments non specific.

    “Which” does something entirely different. It specifies the preceding point.

    By making this change and then deliberately including your own perception of Alonso’s behaviour as “twisting the knife” it is abundantly clear what you are doing.
    You might be better served next time to both report the correct facts and also to stick to them.

    [Reply]


  58.   58. Posted By: mingojo
        Date: May 8th, 2009 @ 6:04 pm 

    MM and Ron Dennis lost all my respect in 2007.Perhaps James can tell us something about the different race strategies for Fernando and Lewis and how Fernando complained to Ron Dennis for no allowing him to chose his race strategy.

    [Reply]


  59.   59. Posted By: SeaDog
        Date: May 9th, 2009 @ 2:43 am 

    After reading the last two posts I wonder what is going on here.

    I read Jame’s account of the press conference and took it to be an insight to the reactions of two people who are still professional adversaries by the way of racing and unfortunately politics.

    It seems everyone is flaming over a transcript while the real story is in watching how these two portrayed in person.

    Perhaps we could get a link here.

    But the way I read it was one of those rare moments where someone we deem as knowing better shows a chink in their armour by reacting to a comment or perceived comment.

    Priceless when it happens, often embarrassing BUT we all do it!

    Moments like these remind us the drivers are human and not a corporate persona, word perfect for the sponsers, but real people who give us entertainment.

    Surely it was not that many years ago the winner was given a mike to hold and talk us through the race uninterrupted, warts and all, rather than a 2 min per person press conf.

    Forget the transcripts, lets see human drivers with a bit of passion and aggression, but gentlemanly, we are Formula 1. Lets have some hard driving on and off the track. And stop them being so bloody polite! Perhaps Eddie Ervine should be the driver’s press front? Sounds fun!

    [Reply]


  60.   60. Posted By: Ace
        Date: May 9th, 2009 @ 4:28 am 

    Alex, i feel your tirade is way out of proportion given the generous words from Alonso.

    Also seems you’re stating things as fact that you can’t possibly know (fan numbers in particular). You seem like a smart guy.. I can only assume you’re driven by passionate feelings for drivers (positive and negative), and it’s getting in the way of your ability to reason.

    [Reply]


  61.   61. Posted By: Ace
        Date: May 9th, 2009 @ 4:39 am 

    “No other rookie has stepped so hard and so quick into the world of formula 1 than has Lewis.”

    Villeneuve?

    [Reply]


  62.   62. Posted By: Vincent
        Date: May 9th, 2009 @ 4:55 pm 

    Alex, are you saying that only by living in Catalonia you know the flavours of spanish nationalism?

    Don’t talk rubish, I’m preparing myself for working in the analisys of those matters and you cannot understand a thing. You need data, you need conceptual tools, you need a lot of work to make such a statement. Come on, I live in Barcelona and it’s not so obvious, societies are so complex.

    There’s so easy to blame individuals when “invisible” by beeing part o the crowd, I recomend you to be more cautious about things like that. Don’t try to make fool’s sociology, creating ghosts and so on.

    [Reply]


  63.   63. Posted By: Rich
        Date: May 10th, 2009 @ 10:44 pm 

    Hi James

    I always read the transcripts from the press conferences and I have to admit my first reading of Alonso’s comments were that they were rather positive. I didn’t feel he was being antagonistic.

    Obviously as you witnessed the conference you saw something in person that didn’t come through in the transcript. I know the FIA film the conferences for the review DVDs and such – do you know if there is any way of getting hold of these? Or does Bernie keep them locked away in case they end up on youtube?

    I wonder if the FIA would consider releasing these as well as the transcripts as I think it would give a better insight for fans.

    [Reply]


  64.   64. Posted By: James
        Date: May 13th, 2009 @ 3:15 pm 

    James, you do also miss out the important fact that Hamilton’s “damaged reputation” was mentioned in the previous question to Hamilton, minutes earlier, and the flow of the conversation had been maintained throughout. So, the fact that he mentions it, but then puts a “whatever” in there, could be significant that he is particularly not trying to have a dig.

    I do fully appreciate that you were there and that I cannot gather anywhere near as much from a transcript as you could have. However, (although I haven’t searched extensively) the numerous other reports of this press conference that I have seen, seem to unanimously disagree with you, and surely some of those writers were also there. This has to take some gloss off your certainty.

    [Reply]


  65.   65. Posted By: James
        Date: May 13th, 2009 @ 3:38 pm 

    I couldn’t agree more Bashar. Very very good comment.

    [Reply]

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