Alonso and Schumacher renew hostilities
McLaren
Alonso and Schumacher renew hostilities
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Mar 2010   |  9:57 pm GMT  |  259 comments

One of the interesting human interest stories to come out of this Melbourne weekend was the renewal of the niggly relationship between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher.

Alonso: Radiates confidence (Darren Heath)


The pair have history. Alonso is the driver Schumacher identified as his biggest threat as early as 2002, when the Spaniard was test driver for Renault. They battled for the title in 2006 and in Monaco that year, things came to a head when Schumacher blocked the track in qualifying. Alonso was one of the drivers prevented from taking pole by that move and was very angry about it. Privately, he threatened to lay down on the grid in front of Schumacher’s car, if the FIA didn’t punish the German, to symbolise that Schumacher runs over the other drivers.

Luckily it never came to that and Schumacher was moved to the back of the grid.

Alonso made positive noises about Schumacher’s return this year, arguing that a championship won against the most successful driver in history is surely more valuable.

But this weekend they started getting under each other’s skin again. On Thursday Schumacher was camped out in the Ferrari hospitality area talking to former colleagues and Alonso came and went several times, clearly unhappy that he was on his turf. There is a dark look that comes over Alonso’s face at times like that – it was very much there in the press conference in Monaco that time – and it was there on Thursday, I’m told by a trusted colleague who observed the whole scene. Later the pair met by the Ferrari fridge and Alonso blanked Schumacher.

On Friday after practice, Alonso and his team were unhappy that Schumacher was not punished by the stewards for failing to observe the red flag for a Kamui Kobayashi incident.


Then in qualifying Schumacher was baulked by Alonso and took it up with him face to face in parc ferme.

This kind of struggle is what makes F1 so compelling; the mind games and gamesmanship of highly competitive individuals. Schumacher got stuck into Ayrton Senna in this way in his first few years in F1.

Ron Dennis once said of Alonso “Competitive animals know no limits” but if anyone embodies that description it is Schumacher. Alonso is now in his prime as a Grand Prix driver and for all the quality of Lewis Hamilton and the promise and maturing brilliance of Sebastian Vettel, Alonso is still the biggest beast in the F1 jungle.

Schumacher, yet to get back to his peak and to challenge Alonso in a competitive situation, is trying to mix it with him, perhaps looking for the psychological combat to inspire him back to his old level. A few years away from the scene has meant that he doesn’t carry that air of dominance around with him, especially on the track.

“Basically on my last try, I was slowed down by him,” said Schumacher after qualifying. He wanted to know if the Ferrari team had informed Alonso that Schumacher was coming through.

“In a way it is difficult because he was on his in-lap, and he was worrying about other things than maybe watching the mirror. But saying that, we had this chat yesterday in the drivers’ briefing that this should be taken care of, and actually he was one of the main guys asking about it.

“I had a conversation with Charlie (Whiting) about it because I wanted to know what are the guidelines here – and whether the rules have changed a little bit to what they used to be. I [told Whiting I] need to know what would you be okay with, and what not.”

Alonso told my Spanish colleagues on Sunday that Schumacher should have “taken the matter up with the stewards, rather than the TV cameras.”

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1

A contrarian view to Allen’s here from Martin Brundle:

“My driver of the day is Hamilton. It was a stunning drive by the 25-year-old; his late braking overtaking, pure aggression around the outside of Nico Rosberg at 150mph and raw speed.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8592658.stm

2

Alonso only won his WDCs because of the massive differential in tires in 2005 and 2006…

To me Alonso has done nothing with remembering yet…

He is nowhere near Schuamcher’s level of talent and professionalism…

3

Absolutely agree with all the points you raised, Tom. I’ve grown weary of how many delight in saying FA beat MS in consecutive years while conveniently forgetting how Schumi’s car(s) and tires let him down in 2005. The admirable manner in which Michael reacted to and treated his crew after the Suzuka DNF truly defined the man. – Great Post!

4

Schumacher was beaten by the rule change in 05. The team and the tire supplier were not able to provide him with a competitive package.

06 was a gripping season where the advantage seemed to shift from one team to the other almost every week. Alonso proved what a difficult opponent he can be, rarely making the smallest mistake. Schumacher, who was no doubt crushed by the engine failure that ended it for him, was able to collect himself and make the rounds of the garage to show his appreciation to the mechanics and pit crew. Under the circumstances that said a lot to me.

Alonso is obviously still at the peak of his powers as a driver. I like the way he played the team game and made the sensible decision to not take any risks and secure important points for Ferrari in Australia.

Schumacher has driven two solid races without a wobble. He’s re-acclimating himself to racing at the top level. It’s going to take some more time for him to find that last iota of performance, and the team has to provide him with a bit more from the car.

Regarding where he eats lunch – I don’t see any relevance. It’s a complete non-story.

5

Schumacher camping out in the Ferrari garage – now that is cheeky and mind games at its best. Perhaps that was a contributing factor to Alonso making a mistake on the first corner? Schumacher knows no limits.

6

James,

Can you write an article on performance of Hamilton vs Alonso for 2007?

I think alot of people would be interested in your analysis.

Regards.

7

I think that has been done to death. It certainly has in the comments section on this site!

8

The basis for Alonso’s reputation needs to be renewed and reconfirmed.

This means seeing off Massa [not happening on this weekend’s evidence] and winning the title for Ferrari this season [uncertain to say the least]….

Meanwhile let’s temper all this hype with a nice pinch of salt.

9

Maybe I’m not the best person to point this out, but there seems to be an excess of hysteria about some of James’ points about Alonso, Schumacher, Hamilton, and Button.

If a point is made about driver ‘x’ you don’t need to follow that point through to it’s extreme extension, like for instance that Alonso is a more complete driver unarguably and forever vs Hamilton/Vettel. Nor is the author of that view “kissing Alonso’s buttcheeks”.

If you disagree, great- tell us why and on what grounds, give us a credible argument and maybe tell us something we don’t know. Save yourself the stress though by assuming a realistic perspective on James and others’ views.

Eg. same about Button/Hamilton. The view that Button in Australia demonstrated one skill that Hamilton could also integrate into his game DOESN’T mean that Button is the consumate all-round driver and that Hamilton is the flair and aggression-only guy.

10

I think the number of responses to this post says it all.

This is what Schumi could bring to the game. As an admirer of the game, I love it.

As far as the topic is concerned I think both are great’s and unique in their own way. Anyway time is the best leveler of matters of this nature, so let’s leave who win’s and who loses until the end of the season.

I would say no matter what the result is, both, in my view will be the winners(‘Coz they are World Champion’s).

And anyone who wants to understand how hard it is to be a world champion should look at Jenson Button’s career timeline once, you’d see how hard he tried and how he was unlucky at times.

So here it is to Schumi and Alonso..keep it coming.

11

D: he beat Schumacher on ‘equals terms’ in 2005?

Which equal terms were those? I’d even debate 2006 to be honest given the engine woes Ferrari had that season.

12

I know the war between them is great and it love it as much as anyone. But as has been mentioned ms needs to beat nico first. Ms keeps mentioning that it’s fun this fun that, if he keeps coming second to nico the fun will drain away I’m sure. It’s not just nico though, it’s the doubters he is racing againt as well. I include James in that as well, who keeps banging on about ms’s neck. I don’t know if ms will gain the fees tenyhs he is lacking atm, he is walking a tight rope that will last a year and if nico is at the finish before him his legend will be be a little tarnished. Great article many thanks

13

Don’t know if it was after the race, or after qualification, but they showed this after the race on German TV:
There was a shot of Michael talking to Fernando who was smiling and nodding in a manner that you do when you really don’t care what the other person is saying. Then Alonso nodded and turned as if to walk away, thinking that the conversation is over. But Michael continued to talk with the hands gesturing, obviously repeating his story and Alonso’s facial expression changed so rapidly – he looked down and nervously moved from one side to the other – if you’d seen this, it looked like he was so pi**ed of he could start shouting or even punching! Then Michael finished, and Alonso looked him, smiled, nodded and said something in a “yeah, whatever you say” manner, tapped Michael on the side and walked away.

Man I just love Fernando for this little things, you clearly see his character in these situations!

Great post James, as always.

14

Michael Schumacher is playing mind games indeed.

Nico Rosberg first had to give him the number that had been allocated to him.

Then he had to swap sides in the garage in Bahrain.

All of that is so insignificant. But if the person being targeted doesn’t see through it then he may step right into the trap.

As far as I can see Nico Rosberg has not yet stepped into the psychological traps Schumacher has set up for him. I think Nico will be fine as I think he has the kind of personality that he will not curl up but he will talk to others and get it levelled up that way.

I see Fernando Alonso did “curl up” whilst he was at McLaren and that was his downfall in the team. He felt hurt and curled up and at that point Lewis Hamilton had won the psychological war.

I think Alonso is actually quite a fragile person and he will be upset way too easily considering his status in F1. It’s quite fascinating actually that such a person who has won so much shows such clear signs of weakness. Michael Schumacher must know that and he is aiming to rattle Alonso. But ironically, I think Schumacher himself is sort of a fragile person himself, too. His former team boss Jean Todt has talked of it. And Sabine Kehm, too. Schumacher appears tough on the surface but it is because he is trying to hide his insecurities.

So, where am I going with this? I think Alonso and Schumacher are quite similar in that regard, both are quite fragile. If you compare them to Kimi Räikkönen then Kimi is the one with the strongest head. Kimi’s strength (and weakness) is that he genuinely doesn’t care who his team-mate is, and so on. So he will largely be immune to the psychological warfare that will affect the likes of Alonso and Schumacher, or Massa. The downside in that is that Kimi will be more easily “blind-sided” by his team-mate, or team, using dirty politics inside the team, as I believe happened at Ferrari – he got blind-sided by the politics because he was trusting the team a lot and thought they would never do that to him. In a sense he was too relaxed to notice the team was blind-siding him. The more fragile egos of Schumacher and Alonso won’t be as relaxed and therefore not as easily blind-sided.

I regard them all highly but comparing their personalities is interesting – there are some really interesting differences between those F1 World Champions. And we love them all for what they are.

15

As much as Michael’s driving skill and fighting spirit command respect, it must be said that Alonso has easily been the top F1 driver since winning his 1st title in 2005. He has beaten the Meister twice on equal terms and had he not gone back to Renault (or gone to Ferrari sooner) he would have probably won at least one more title. Regardless, he will win the WDC again this year, as there not only is a better driver in F1, but also there is not a better driver-car combination.

16

Yes he was top dog for 2 years until Hamilton beat him in his rookie year at McLaren or have you forgotten that? 😉

17

Lewis has supreme talent. If Alonso had been able to accept/digest that fact early enough in 2007 and focussed more on his driving, he would have beat Lewis and taken his 3rd WDC. But he simply lost the plot as he couldn’t digest the fact that a rookie (albiet a very special rookie) could be as good as him, if not even better in some areas.

When he learnt to deal with it, we had those masterful drives from Monza onwards, but it was too late.

Alonso hates being bettered by a fast team mate as much today as he did in 2007. Difference is that he knows to just get on with the job these days. Contrast “happily” tailing Massa for most of last week’s race versus his “pitwall swerve” display of Indy 2007.

18

No I have not forgotten. He had the same points w/ Lewis at the end, and only one less than Kimi. See comments above for more on the 2007 season. I think most people who are not biased agree that Alonso has been and still is the top F1 driver. James himself has said as much.

19

A strange analysis of Alonso. If he was the top F1 driver in 2007, you have to answer why, in a car that was at least the equal of the Ferrari over the season, he was not able to dominate. Remember that the only reason McLaren didn’t win with Hamilton was that they made really stupid mistakes with the last couple of races, not because the car wasn’t up to it.

How did McLaren sabotage his first races, say, to put him in a position behind Lewis? The nonsense started after Alonso had already dropped the ball, and the petty stuff like the very deliberate blocking of the McLaren pit was hardly the mark of a master tactician, much more the work of the carparkmeister.

Alonso is excellent, but fallible.

20

You must be a newcomer to F1 as the other guy I replied to. In 2007 Alonso had to make a very difficult transition to McLaren. Lewis (who I also rate very, very highly) was in the McLaren system for years and was groomed to be the prime driver in that team (as he is today). Still, Alonso only lost the WDC by a single point for reasons that I stated above. You must also remember that a great driver in the fastest car doesn’t always win, as has been the case w/ Kimi in terms of not having won the WDC, not once but twice (2003, 2006).

21
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Have you erased 2006, 2007 and 2008 from your memory?

22

No I have not. You must be a newcomer to F1. In 2006 he won the WDC. In 2007 he lost the WDC by a single point, and only because the championship was fixed due to the Mclaren spying scandal (to rescue the season, they agreed to give it to Ferrari in exchange for letting the McLaren drivers race on). In 2008 he was in a much lesser car than anyone of the front runners and still won not one but **two** races (granted one was fixed, but still). I am hardly alone when I say that Alonso has been and still is the top driver in F1.

23

“There is a dark look that comes over Alonso’s face at times like that”

So true. He will never be the most “popular” and beloved driver on the track either by the public or the media but that’s one of those things that makes him genuine to my eyes. I am a fan, I like that light/dark side of his and I love to see him struggle to keep the lid on. Sometimes he does lose it but I value his capacity of self-control and discipline, so difficult for someone like him. I find him fascinating. After all, don´t we all share that battle to some extent?

I just hope he doesn´t fall for the bait or allow his insecurity (as someone wisely pointed out) off the track to lead him to make mistakes. I hope he can keep his cool and control his ego to his own and his team’s benefit focusing on the long run and remembering something about a certain dish tasting better when served cold.

I’ve got a big alpha male pet and I sure know what happens if we don´t restrain him when our neighbour’s one comes for a sniff of our tree.

And not even deliberately….

24

If Alonso was so much ‘the big beast’ in F1, then how come he did not out pace Hamilton in 2007? He should have been way ahead of a rookie if he was as good as everyone says he is and NO amount of ‘help’from McLaren would have altered that!

Besides two WDC titles in two much faster cars, where everyone sees this untouchable talent I just don’t know, all the on track evidence speaks to the contary. He is good, but he is not the best and certainly no all time great. 2007 showed him for who he is and agianst Hamilton now in equal cars there is no way he would win… No way!

25

I totally agree Peter.

Hamilton was a rookie. He hadn’t even raced some of the tracks before. He did not even know the nuance of an F1 car. He did not know much about setup.

Alonso had SIX years of F1 experience while Hamilton had zero. That’s no typo.

Yet after 3 or 4th race Hamilton never lost the WDC lead to Alonso, and routinely made Alonso look very ordinary.

Now Hamilton has had 3 years in F1. His learning curve would have been exponential in these years. One can reasonably infer that if in his rookie year Hamilton was that equal to Alonso, surely now Hamilton would surpass Alonso should they again be benchmarked in the same car.

It isn’t even fair that Hamilton was compared to Alonso because Alonso had 6 years in F1.

26

Congrats peter. Uve just entered the guiness book of records as the most wrong a person can be

27

Peter, if you can’t see Alonso’s talent then you might want to take off the Hamitlon spec beer goggles your sporting and look at reality.

28

Oh man, year after year, different mouths, same tedious, repetitive argument… And I thought Alonso’s fanboys were sad. Hamilton’s are ever worse!

Acording to your view, Alonso was massive in 2007! He was able to match the new real and true legend! Not a rookie, but the best driver- talent-force of nature-never seen before! Can you see it this way?

People change, evolve, think, rethink… Do it. Yes, you (and others) can. But I think you (and others) do not want to change your opinion at all…

Cheers.

29

Has anyone surveyed all of the various team’s hospitality areas?

Since I have never been paddock side of the security gates I wouldn’t know if hospitality doors are open to all comers or whether there is a VIP only guest list. There is so much black/mirrored glass it’s hard to tell from the outside what’s on the menu.

30

For me, the thing with Alonso is this:

At Renault, the team was set up in such a way that they had a clear number 1 and number 2 driver. This I think was because of the fact that Alonso was clearly better than his team mates at Renault. He got used to this.

At McLaren, this wasn’t the case. Nor is it the case at Ferrari.

It certainly wouldn’t suprise me if it did kick off this year between Alonso and Massa.

James – this blog is superb and gets better. For well written and interesting articles it beats anything else out there on the web.

31

Well it already ‘kicked off’ from Hamilton’s side, so at least if you find the races boring, you will have something interesting to follow.

All that ‘hostility’ between drivers the press loves so much to spice up the show and get the spectators in line doesn’t really exist. All the drivers respect each other a lot, even if not all of them are friends.

Schumacher coming into the Ferrari garage, and Alonso making a ‘dark face’? lol…what a soap opera! Little ‘mindgames’ are played all the time between the drivers as well.

The important thing is to respect each other on track and most of them- if not all of them- do.

32

Thanks K. But you should continue the rant, there is sooooo much material on this one.

For example, everytime Alonso drives to work in his new 458 he’s impressed with the Schumi designed interior and tries to copy the setup from the car by contacting (now legally) the mole who has the original blue prints.

33

Hi James,

Long time follower, first time poster.

I tried emailing you at editor1@jamesallenonf1.com but it failed. Is there another email address that would work?

Regards.

34

Like they messed up in last few seasons, I think once again Ferrari is missing important points. This season will be extremely tight in the end. Someone within the team should really tell Massa that it will be in his best interest to be more concentrated on beating other drivers rather than his teammate.

35

James,

with all due respect I think the funniest thing in it all is how the media are trying to read big things into nothing (or very little) and how fans tend to fall for these amateur psycho-analysis of drivers.

Now people watch this video about Michael and Fernando AFTER the race. Sure those two guys look like they have just renewed their “hostilities”. 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0WFd1K9qq8

36

It’s clear to me that James Allen believes that Alonso is the best driver in F1 and has done so for several years now, I don’t agree with this and I don’;t believe Alonso himself really believes it as he knows that in both Hamilton and Vettel that there are two drivers that could beat him given equal equipment.

Of the 3 (my top 3) I think Alonso is most weary of Hamilton and he knows it is only Hamilton that could make the many overtaking moves he did in the last race, pity Vettel was at the front as it would have been good seeing how he compared when moving towards the front.

We’ll all see the real Alonso should Massa peg him or even lead him……..

37

alonso is good, there is no question about it, but do you thing prost would had had any problems with massa as a teammate? He would have won not only at baharain, but in melburne as well. Alonso made a mistake at the start, that cost him the victory, and finished behind massa, in a race he should have won. Making life hard not only for himself, but for domenicalli. He wants to give him nº1 status, but finishing 4ºth does not help their case.

38

Alonso is without doubt the best driver on the grid today.

What makes him great? In his own words consistency! He is like Sebastian Loeb from WRC – consistent, intelligent and utterly relentless. Colin McRae was probably faster in his day but Loeb is a more complete driver, just like Alonso.

Alonso has grown up in the wake of 2007 and is stronger as a result. He will have run-ins with Massa without doubt but I think they will actually make a very good team. Massa might feel that his chances of winning a WC are now reduced but the best thing he can do is keep working with Fernando to improve the car and hope that he can stay close enough to Alonso to challenge him. I have my doubts that this will be possible though.

39

I do not like Alonso, but I agree. Now….to be fair. Really fair and not bias. I do not think that Vettel is as good overtaker as Hamilton or Alonso. If you will study all races last year when Vettel was expected to overtake, he was really poor at this. I think that many people will confirm it. Hamilton? Oh, yes! But Vettel? Not at all…..last year we were very happy to see Vettel so competitive, but were disappointed to see him failing to overtake.

40

Last time I looked Alonso made as many overtaking moves in Australia as Hamilton. From last place on the grid to P4. That’s about 20 cars passed. So I doubt a guy who can do that is worried about the other guy.

41

I think you’ll find that I’m not alone in the view that he is the most complete driver

42

then he should win the title, because he is the most complete driver in the most complete car. We’ll see.

43

James you might be right but you will also agree that there might just be as many people who think Hamilton is the BEST (not complete) driver 🙂

44

Yes, he pretty much earned this in hardest possible way.

45

Alonso would say that a championship won against Shumacher is more valuable wont he? Because he’s the only one he’s ever won against and kind of make him look special. I dont buy it.

Yes Shumi was an excellent driver resorting to quite a few underhand tactics to win his haul with unbelievable assistance from the Naz Mosley and the money hungry Bernie who saw Germany as a gold mine for printing money, but more special or valuable i wouldn’t say.

46

Alonso may be the biggest beast.

But the 2007 benchmark against rookie Hamilton showed the world he isn’t the best.

People have such short memories and it gets overlooked so many times.

47

Unless you have a crystal ball and can see into the future towards the end of both of their careers then your comments are pure speculation at best.

Currently Fernando is a double WC and Hamilton is a single WC (thanks to Timo Glock…) so as of right now history will show Fernando is “the best”. Nobody knows how this may change over the coming years but in my humble opinion Fernando will win another couple of WC’s at least. It will not be easy by any means but it is possible for him to topple Schumacher’s record.

Michael is proud of his F1 records – perhaps he is worried that Fernando will overtake him and has come back to try to stop him…

48

There is no need for a crystal ball when we have 2007.

zero seasons vs. a 6 seasoned man.

The only thing winning more titles will show as that they’re team delivered a better car.

There is no better benchmark than driving in an identical car.

49

“2007 proves absolutely nothing”

Actually it proved everything.

They didn’t hire 2 x WDC and pay him millions to only make him look a fool against a rookie who had never raced an F1 car.

It was up to Alonso to stamp the authority on track and I honestly believe he could not cope with Hamilton. He resorted to so many lap 1 do or die moves like Canada 07.

50

2007 proves absolutely nothing because there are still more questions than answers from that year. Maybe some day someone will tell the full and true story of what went one in McLaren but I firmly believe that Fernando was not given equal opportunities.

It was an outstanding performance from Fernando in 2007 to gather himself together and come through to equal Hamilton’s points by the end of the year even with everything working against him. Hamilton had cracked up under pressure by that time and threw away the championship with amateur-hour performances like when he beached it in the gravel in China.

So, as I said, without a crystal ball we can’t tell who will win in the end but my money is literally on Fernando. He’s quite simply in a different class as a racing driver at present.

51

The two WDC’s to Hamilton’s lucky one point win on’08 say differently. Usually the person with more wins is thought of as better. At least in the real world that is. 🙂

52

One point.

And how many points were taken from Hamilton and given to Massa by the FIA ie Belgium?

53

As many as were taken away? It makes zero difference. Excuses don’t win WDC’s mate. Hamilton squeaked into his WDC and LOST in 2007 with a 17 point lead with three races left in the season. Hardly the definition of decisive.

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