F1 Winter Break
Hamilton and Alonso bury the hatchet
Hamilton and Alonso bury the hatchet
Posted By:   |  09 Nov 2008   |  10:28 pm GMT  |  20 comments

I note that at the recent Mercedes Stars and Cars bash in Stuttgart Lewis Hamilton alluded to a visit he received from his former team mate Fernando Alonso shortly after the race in Sao Paulo last week. The Spaniard came to offer him his congratulations on winning the world title and Hamilton says that Alonso even went so far as to hug him.

By chance I was walking down the paddock ten yards behind Alonso as he left the Renault garage area in the open part of the paddock, heading down towards the tight, narrow warren which houses the ‘midfield’ teams. There was something about his stride which suggested that he had a purpose in mind and sure enough, when he arrived outside the back of the McLaren garage, he met up with Mclaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa. The pair shook hands and went inside, where the scene Hamilton described took place.

It was obviously pre-arranged between the Spanish pair, but it was curious to know whether Alonso texted De La Rosa asking him to escort him in there, perhaps when Lewis was confirmed as being there and Ron Dennis was safely out of view – or whether the initiative came from Pedro. [ more ]

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Good point James. I think F1 will eventually distill down to a Hamilton vs Alonso battle for the preminent driver of the modern era.

I believe they are completely out of the same mould and whilst other drivers such as the established Raikkonen and Massa, and new boys Kubica and Vettel etc will challenge them, I think the next decade will see Alonso and Hamilton at the very top. Brings back the days of Senna / Prost although i actually believe they are closer matched in approach and outright speed than Senna and Prost were.

Despite all the references this season to the 'next Ferrari driver' by various people covering the likes of Kubica and Vettel, including your own references earlier in the season to Kubica, I notice that more people are now agreeing that Alonso would be the right long term bet for Ferrari.

For me it is an absolute no brainer. He is as a driver the true heir to Schumacher when you consider technical nous as well as speed and racecraft and the fact that he speaks fluent Italian and is ultra motivated to beat McLaren notwithstanding the thaw in his approach in Brazil makes him a blindingly obvious choice.

I am amazed that Ferrari picked Raikkonen over Alonso as although Raikkonen is considered non-political and is obviously very very fast, his apparent laid back attitude is not what is needed across a full season when the car is not necessarily the best out there.

Alonso I think would get more from the car over a full season and with a confident and now champion Lewis at McLaren Ferrari need Alonso for the long term.

Not taking anything away from Kimi but I hope it happens sooner rather than later....

Good luck in your new activities whatever they may be.


I think it's great that these two champions don't hate each other,on and off the track.The same was seen in Ferarri,where Raikonnen congrats Massa and shook his hand.

I hope in the future,the epic battle won't only involve Alonso and Hamilton,but also some other drivers.Imagine if there are 4 or 5 drivers who still have the chance to grab the WDC up to the last round of the chamionship.Would't it be great?Maybe it's too optimistic,but with the progress that BMW and Renault have shown this season,I really wish that it could come true.


JA writes: Nick, Alonso was all set to join Ferrari as test driver in 2002, the deal was agreed with Jean Todt, but he never signed it because he wasn't comfortable about the idea of being No 2 to Schumacher if and when he was promoted to a race seat. Massa had no such reservations. So Alonso went and did a testing deal with Renault which gave him a race seat in 2003.

Todt was so furious about this 'betrayal', he vowed Alonso would never race a Ferrari so that's why Kimi was the only choice when MS retired. However I sense from Italian colleagues that Di Montezemolo didn't totally agree with this position and now that he is back full time, Todt has moved on and Domenicalli is running the race team, the position could well change, which is why I think Alonso is on his way there.

Read my biog of Schumacher, "The Edge of Greatness', it's all in there.


That's very interesting James, and it explains a lot. Given this year's performances, if Alonso and Hamilton were to line up in evenly matched cars, my money would go on Alonso.

But then, they *did* line up in evenly matched cars, and scored an identical number of points...


The cars and the team support were not evenly matched when they were both at Macca.

James, please get on the phone to Monty and tell him to do a Alonso/Kimi swap with Renault for next season. PLEASE!! We all want it to happen.


Hi James,

Edge of Greatness is a brilliant read, you are turning into a legend- awesome writer awesome commentator.

A tad off topic i know, but why did Frentzen get sacked in 2001 from Jordan?


Whether de la Rosa initiated the handshake or not, it still took a lot of courage and a great deal of sportsmanship for Alonso to walk down to his old employers to shake Hamilton's hand.

It would've been good to see Alonso in a Ferrari this year, because I think he would have nailed Hamilton, Kimi and Kubica. However, don't discount Renault next year. I think that they and BMW will be the suprise package of the field and could open an early lead over Mclaren and Ferrari.

It's also interesting to hear about Alonso turning down Ferrari in 2002. Do you believe he would've been a serious threat to Schumacher when promoted to a race seat, James? Ferrari did however make a smart investment in Kimi. Although he has had a season to forget, he has clearly been the fastest on the track.


Hi James,

I was inerested to hear your comments about Alonso being the best pound for pound driver in F1. There's no question he's an incredible driver and already a great, however do you think that by going back to Renault he's simply managed to get back some of that mystique he lost last year?
He's done a brilliant job to get Renault back on the podium so quickly but you also have to remember that he hasn't had a great deal of pressure on him either. Last year when Lewis was getting the upper hand and making few mistakes Fernando really did lose the plot at times. In fact the Hungary (Pitbox) incident reminded me a bit of the Schumacher rascasse moment in terms of sheer desperation.
I would however love to see Alonso in a more competitive car as i don't think it's good for the sport to have the best drivers down the field.
I also wondered whether you could shed some light on Fernando's original decision to join Mclaren, was this purely financial? or did they have a much more competitive package? Do you not feel that had he stayed at Renault they might have dominated like Ferrari did with Michael?


JA writes: No Alonso's decision to join McLaren was emotional - he always wanted to drive for 'Senna's team' since he was a little kid. His moment came when McLaren was looking around to replace Montoya in 2005. It was a marriage made in heaven, but then Ron gave Lewis his chance and the rest is history.

Alonso is very bitter about it because it was literally his childhood ambition to drive for the team and Ron turned out not to be the man he thought he was.


That sounds like it was MAINLY Ron's fault - yes?


The relationships between the drivers will always be one of the most fascinating things about the sport for me. However, if any of them are as much as a tenth as dramatic as they are portrayed by the specialist and (particularly) mainstream media, I'd be very surprised.

I'll always subscribe to Clive James' thoughts on the subject - "Even when they hate each other, it's on first name terms".


James, you say "the rivalry everyone wants to see, both inside F1 and among the public, is Alonso in a Ferrari versus Hamilton in a McLaren." but I would dispute that.

I want to see the rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso in a fully competetive car but that car does not have to be a ferrari. In fact until ferrari can lose the image of FIA favouritism, (perhaps by way of the FIA ceasing to apply this favouritism) it is better ferrari does not employ the championship winning driver.

Ferrari currenlty uses tobacco sponsorship after having agreed to lose it after 2006, receives a disproportionate share of the money which is given to teams and has been the beneficiary of a series of controversial decisions this year such as the fine for Massa in Valencia when he should have had a penalty, the Spa decision and most of all the penalty given to Bourdais when Massa was the one in the wrong.

Ferrari are a team with a rich history, a talented, passionate and committed workforce, dedicated supporters and a taint that needs to be cleaned before a driver can win a title without questions being asked. Alonso deserves better and I hope Renault deliver!


Erm,I have a question,why do everyone think that Alonso should move to Ferarri?I mean,he and Renault have won both drivers and constructors championship for 2 years.They have beaten Ferarri.If Alonso has the ability to make Renault a winning team,and he's comfortable there,why bother to go to,once again,unknown environment?


Sorry but not everyone wants Alonso at Ferrari....

I think Ferrari knew what they were doing in keeping Kimi and Felipe together....

Alonso clearly wants a number 2 driver to back him up and wants the whole team to focus on him.... that works brilliantly at Renault but he'd have hated to be alongside either the Kimster or Felipe at Ferrari...

All Ferrari need to do is cut down on the mistakes and mechanical glitches and all would be well....

Lewis won by virtue of an extremely flexible car as well as having that car and team built around him, but also because he had no mechanical failures at all.....

I am not at all sure that some of Fernando's outbursts this year have done much to indicate that you'd want him with his emotional baggage.... he's OK when you bend over backwards for him, but certainly a loose cannon if you don't....

He's good but never forget that he lost Macca two titles last year... one way or another .....


JA writes: Some great stuff coming out of this strand. Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for Bob Bell, Pat Symonds and the team at Renault, and I'm sure they will be there or thereabouts next season. It's just that the box office appeal of F1 has to be Alonso in a Ferrari vs Hamilton in a McLaren, with Massa staking his claim, Kubica taking them all on in a BMW etc.

I'm not sure that Alonso cost McLaren two titles last year, it's very complex how the constructors' played out, but the team cost Fernando the drivers; there's no doubt about that.

As for his outbursts, he's a passionate bloke and he has total self belief, so he says what he feels and that is refreshing. But at the end of the day he is the strongest driver out there and for that reason he should be in one of the best cars and playing his part in the show.


Your view James....

I don't have to agree.... and actually I have to admit... I rarely do....


Personally James,I think Alonso-Renault VS Hamilton-Mclaren VS Kubica-BMW VS The Ferarris would be a greater box office,at least to me.

Here's my reason.Alonso has bulit Renault.Just like what Michael did with Ferarri.And that way,there should be a good bound between him and the team.Which will be interesting to see.

Hamilton has gained success in only his 2nd season on Mclaren,which means that he will stay there for a long time,and I think most people agree that there's where he belongs,especially with his deep relationship with Ron Dennis.

Kubica has shown that he's outpaced his team-mate,Heidfeld.Although,I think BMW will keep this duo for another 4-5 years.

And the Ferarris,I love how they give their drivers equal amount of chance.That will make the sport more interesting.I'm not an "anti-team order" kind of fan.I think team order is a reasonable option when you do it on the right time (austria 2002 was obviously not a right time)

To me,this scenario is more intresting.But it's just me.


I think the issue with Renault is that they're currently a team on a knife edge with regards to F1. As James and Martin have been discussing throughout this season, Renault are constantly reviewing their position in F1, and could decide before long to drop their F1 package.

That would be a great shame, but with little return (except for the 05 and 06 championships) you can understand why. Renault dont want to be spending millions supporting a white elephant (nor does Williams) team, particuarly in the current financial climate.


Despite the shabby way that Alonso treated them the first time around there is something very right about Alonso being back at Renault. I think he's the sort of driver who needs to be "bigger" than the team. At Ferrari, his status would be no better than it was at McLaren - an employee.


Dear james:
I am a race fan from spain, and i read your articles and some of your books, enjoing them a lot.
It is the first time enter your web site, and i am very impressed, in how british fans treat Fernando Alonso with respect.
Makes me sad to see, how hamilton is treated here in spain. And to tell you the truth, tele5, the channel that was showing the races live, is responsible for it. Next year this is going to change a bit, with a new tv, having the rights.
Sorry you not be going to bbc, next year, but i hope that now you have more time in your hands for a few books.
bbc loss our gain?

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