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Alonso and Webber: After the dinner, the joint 200th GP chat!
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Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Apr 2013   |  9:15 am GMT  |  126 comments

There has been something of a phoney war going on this week with Fernando Alonso mischievously tweeting a photo of himself having dinner with Red Bull’s Mark Webber in Dubai. In the light of the climate of antagonism between Webber and team mate Sebastian Vettel after the team orders debacle in Malaysia, the photo assumed a different significance and that was exacerbated when it was mysteriously taken down.

There is nothing unusual about them having dinner together; they do it regularly. However, both drivers are celebrating 200 Grands Prix and on Thursday and ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, the BBC got Webber and Alonso to sit down together to talk through their shared experiences. Some of the chat was broadcast last night on BBC Radio 5 Live (listen Here) the whole chat will be shown during BBC TV’s Live Spanish Grand Prix coverage. There is some terrific banter, which shows how well the pair get along.

“What are your memories of your first race?” Webber asked.

“It was quite scary,” said Alonso. “I arrived at the first race and I hadn’t had any testing. I jumped in the car and I didn’t know all the buttons on the steering wheel, especially the neutral. I went down the pit lane and went down the gears, down, down looking for neutral, but I couldn’t find it! At the last moment I got it and missed hitting the car in front of me! That was a good start!”

Webber made his debut, also with Minardi, a year later and recalled, “I wasn’t comfortable in the car’ you’d been there, a short arse and so I had my knees on top of the chassis, the elbows in the side.”

“Was it strange making your debut in your home race,” interjected Alonso.

“It is strange yes,” said Webber, referring to the Australian GP 2002, where he finished fifth and scored points on debut. “Fortunately for you, you’ve won your home race. I was speaking to Jenson; he’s never won his home race, I’ve never won mine. I enjoy Melbourne, but I think I used up all my coins in that first race!”

“What was your favourite race?” Alonso asked.


“Probably one of the Monaco wins, the 2010 race, I think,” said Webber. “I was fortunate that you crashed in Practice 3, which helped me a bit, because you were quick, along with Robert (Kubica) and Seb. The win was between us. Yours?”

“Probably Malaysia 2012,” said Alonso. “It was completely unexpected. I started 9th and then the red flag. When you stop for an hour it’s really challenging for the drivers, to see how the grip has changed.”

Webber and Alonso have had some terrific battles over the years, not least their classic scrap at Spa in 2011, where Webber passed Alonso on the outside on the way into the Eau Rouge corner and you can sense the respect and cameraderie between them whenever you see them together, such as in the cool down room or off camera in the Unitateral TV studio after a race,

“We’ve had some really good times on the track (over their 200 races together),” said Webber. “There’s a few guys out there; you, Jenson, the racing can be really hard and fair and looking a bit more at the bigger picture.”

“It’s good to battle with someone you respect and the battle can be fair. I think we met in many starts at the first corner,” said Alonso. “The last three or four years we have been fighting for the first three or four positions.

“Some of the rookies that arrive in F1 with a GP2 mentality, it’s very risky,” said Alonso, possibly reflecting on last year’s Belgian GP start, where he was taken out by Romain Grosjean.

They also spoke about life after F1, Alonso said that he is interested in driving other cars because F1 is so restrictive in terms of testing bans and opportunities to have fun. They agreed that Fridays at Grands Prix do not satisfy them. Although they are compelled to drive in F1 by the challenge of racing at the highest level and competing against the best drivers in the world, they are conscious of there being more to life.

“We enjoy this category (of racing), but there are others and more fun cars to drive, ” said Alonso. There is a lot of pressure and the enjoyable moments are less and less. Sometimes we go in a kart and enjoy more.”

“There is life outside F1.”

You can read between the lines.

As my colleague Gary Anderson observed, in F1 you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

If the Dubai photo was designed to upset Vettel, he refused to take the bait,

“We all need dinner at some point and it’s quite boring to always have it on your own.”

It’s a classic piece of F1 gamesmanship by Alonso and Webber. Vettel accused the Australian of doing nothing to help him in their years as team mates. He knows now, if he had been in any doubt before, that his arch rival Alonso has an ally within his own camp.

* Look out for the full Alonso/Webber chat during BBC TV’s Live Spanish GP weekend.

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1

How about Webber at Lotus next year, not Ferrari, and Kimi to Red Bull?

2

Alonso is drumming up allies with Webber and Hamilton. All these efforts to rattle Vettel’s crown. ha ha…

Judging from the quali and practice session in Bahrain. I think Alonso has got the gear to win his first WDC for Ferrari.

That said, Vettel should never be ruled out. He is not only the pole king but also the comeback king! The 2010 and 2012 season both went down to the wire and he was triumphant in both occasions. Vettel 2; Alonso 0.

3

I was wondering how they are both celebrating 200 starts when Webber started a year later.

Anyway, Alonso spent a year as test driver at Renault in 2002. He then replaced Button in 2003. That is how he missed a year.

4

Alonso doesn’t need to play mind games with Vettel and he did it because he never had a car advantage, he had to find something else. I am absolutely certain that if ferrari will be on par with red bull in qualifying and races, Alonso will take the title and not vettel and hewill not need any help. He just needs a car.

5

Still think that Webber should have gone to Ferrari. New challenge, friendly teammate and a car more suited to driving style.

6

James, how long till Webber stops seeing development parts and so on, especially plans for next years car? Assuming he’s possibly on the outer and red bull won’t want him taking their secrets to another team?

7

I’d be surprised if that happens with a WCC to win. If he’s going to a rival team next year they might keep him in the dark, but they will always want the car to be as fat as possible because points mean prizemoney

8

Webber is also close to Button.

They also have a great relationship.

They dont all have to hate each other to race hard.

9

We learned a few things:

When Webber jumped into his car seat after Alonso he forgot to punch the number 2 button for the comfort settings. If head the seat would have pushed back, lowered a bit, the pedals retretreated to the nose, the mirrors adjusted, climate control moved to 71 degrees (f), and the radio would have been changed to the pre-set “team orders” 103.3 FM where we promise you won’t have to race your teammate like a man.

2: Seb shot back and most have missed with his “eat alone all the time” quip. I guess he wishes Mark happiness.

Seriously I don’t see this as a problem at all. There is nothing here that even I didn’t know.

James, listened to the clip yesterday and it was awesome. Thanks

10

I guess it is pretty normal to have friends in the industry you are working in, and they do not tend to be the people that are competing for the same position in a company.

Sometimes even this happens, but then this friendship goes a long way back, or there is no direct competition because one person is the “planned” successor of the other, e. g. a Schumacher / Massa situation compared to Schumacher / Barichello.

Apart from that, this picture actually weakens Webber, giving fresh fuel to all those who want to believe that, may the situation arise, he is more likely to help Alsonso than his own teammate and, therefore, in the end, his own team.

An own goal for both, if you ask me, that is probably why it has been removed.

11

Two friend having a dinner is not a big thing. However, this to got published tells me that Webber knows he is out of RB at the end of the year anyway.

12

I see it as more than who’s eating with who, but about the characters of these drivers. Vettel while a great driver does not care nor shown to have any interest in building relationships with his peers. This helps justify his ambitions and ruthlessness and in my opinion makes him less of a complete sportsman than others. The fact that Webber and Alonso have been known to be good friends for years tells me a top tier driver like Alonso/Webber can be both inspiring on(skills) and off(relational) the track. To be the best you do not need to in paranoid and hostile with your peers, on or off the track.

13

wow! Where did that come from? Do you actually know this for a fact?

14

No, Vettel has friends, too, e.g. Kimi Raikkonen. There was a great interview with both of them on German TV. Kimi was actually talking on his own free will, revealing whether he was the black or brown Gorrila on a party snapshot, a question which was bothering some people in the paddock for quite some time, apparently.

He also gets/got on well with the other German drivers, especially Timo Glock who is from the same region.

15

“After the Dinner, the Joint”….

Ah if only the headline had stopped there. Would have made some of our fellow readers here nostalgic for the 1960s

16

Kimi likely still partakes, on a remote Finnish holiday island in the wintertime…..

17

Great document James, congrats. Only one thing, the pic or the tweet was never taken down.

18

[mod]
If Mark Webber is so bad as you lot are trying to make out how did he ever manage to make 200 F1 races.

You don’t get to race this many years without some talent.I don’t exactly see him having a rich family to pay for his drive.

19

I think he managed to connect with the right people i.e. Flavio Briatore and was been able to step into F1. Then if you’re good enough, you’ll survive there.

Now, Webber is an experienced driver, he has valuable knowledge of how different teams work and more capable of aiding in car development. RB will be wise not to upset him as he could giveaway RB secrets to opponents.

20

Barrichello anyone?

21

It’s missing 3rd chair for Robert Kubica. Along Webber, a best Alonso’s friend too.

22

Interesting comments from them both about life outside F1 – I did wonder whether either driver would move into other categories such as sportscars or the DTM/WTCC after they finish with F1, and while Webber looked more likely out of the two (perhaps soon if the Porsche rumours are accurate…) I wasn’t sure about Alonso. Also interesting that they talked about the enjoyment from F1 becoming less and less – perhaps Alonso’s comments about finishing his career with Ferrari were a hint that 2016 might be his last season if this trend continues. Reading between the lines to a huge degree, admittedly, but it makes me wonder at least. Especially with the WEC making its mark nowadays.

23

Love Alonso because he is a true pro.

Love Mark W,more, he is a true blue and

my mate.

And I thank you Mr Allan for puting picture

and the chat between two friends having a

dinner on your site, simply memorable.

It shows why your site is the best in the

business by displying the lighter side of a

bear pit.

Thank you again and keep it up.

24

Thanks

To be clear the quotes are not from the dinner they are from the chat organised by the BBC

25

Are we having a merry time counting the number of angels on the head of a pin?

Still, no harm done. Lots of fun.

26

As for knowing who has goal posts in who’s mind – we don’t need look any further to Webber cracking within seconds in the last GP when Vettel came up behind him…

So, when your driving has to do the talking Webber is far from walking the talk

27

Mind games -if they are here- are played by the mentally weak and never work ! Webber has been at this all his career, well.

Lets be honest here, a mind game might be the difference between winning and losing for two top drivers – Webber here is neither a match for Alonso or Vettel.

A Schumacher mind-game against say a Damon Hill/Hakkinen is on a completely different plane compared to Webber…

28
Val from montreal

To the Maitre D’ Hotel from Alonso and Webber at arrival :

Alonso : Hello … Reservation for Alonso and Webber …

Maitre D : oh yes , Mr Alonso and Mr Webber , thank you for your visit in our fine establishment …You will enjoy a great dinner … May I seat you to your table now ?

Webber : Yes please , were pretty hungry !

Maitre D : Ok follow me .. Your table is waiting for you bear the bar ….

Alonso : The bar ? We reserved our table on the terrasse … What’s going on ?

Maitre D : Well we had unexpected guests who just arrived last minute … And obviously we could’nt turned rhem

down … Our seats are limited …

Webber : Who are the people that took our table ?

Maitre D : Mr Michael Schumacher and Mr Vettel …

Alonso : We want our table now !!

Maitre D : Were sorry but the 7 time world champion and triple world champion have got the priority … However , Champagne is on us !!

29

Nice one!

30

Alonso: oh, but how is that? It was me who ended the domination of one of them and I’ll take care of the other one soon – you know, unlike me, they are really not so good without the really really dominant car.. 😉

31

It must be the way you tell ’em.!

32

I don’t quite understand this article.

It initially seems intended to “blame” Alonso and/or Webber for misbehaviour in posting the picture (still posted) and their race attitude towards each other and, later on, it explains the reasons for such dinner, their mutual respect and hints occasions in which they’ve raced like badasses.

I guess it would have been more effective, in terms of mind games, if the picture was “leaked”, instead of openly posted and commented.

Oh, I’d like to remark Vettel’s response to the picture: “Were they naked?”

(That can be consider either mischief or a rather peculiar personal etiquette while dinning with friends)

33

To Vettel’s remark concerning nakedness. I think it means if they’re naked there’s a story, otherwise who cares. Vettel playing the game too.

34

How about that it’s not seeking to blame anyone for anything, but is merely and objective story, dealing with gamesmanship and subtle messages, have you considered that?

35

James,

I appreciate the article in its full extension as it develops the full story and I always try to consider different intentions in the current or any other situations.

Unfortunately, the first and last lines don’t seem objective to me:

“There has been something of a phoney war going on this week with Fernando Alonso mischievously tweeting a photo…”

“He (Vettel) knows now (…) that his arch rival Alonso has an ally within his own camp.”

Oh, as written before, the pic is still available at Alonso’s twitter, though Webber’s “re-tweet” of it is no longer.

36

C,mon, James –

‘Dinner party’ + ‘Photo Tweet’ = ‘Objective’ – events did happen.

‘Gamesmanship’, ‘Subtle Messages’ = ‘Subjective’ – journalistic license.

Most entertaining! Keep up the good work!

37

I dont believe anybody at Red Bull would care if Alonso and Webber would share a room together. That the so called “sport journalists” have to tell Vettel of this dinner, no doubt arranged by Briatore, to get a response is all you need to know. If sites like yours wouldnt make a mountain out of a molehill this would be a complete nonevent. In fact it is !

38

The article is about the interview they did, which is part of this weeks chequered flag podcast.

I’ve followed this site since the beginning and James never makes a mountain out of a molehill. It’s the reason why he’s the only journo worth following!

39

This is an interesting article with a human angle to it. It will be read by many and enjoyed. In case you hadnt noticed – this is a forum for people who are passionate about F1. I for one am very interested to read about drivers’ interests and friendships.

Jopurnalists will always try to get an interesting angle on every story. If the facts were reported as simply facts then this forum wouldnt exist and you wouldn’t have been able to comment….

40

If you noticed, I didn’t report the dinner at the time, didn’t make a mountain out of a molehill

This is a factual report with extensive quotes on a very interesting conversation between them. Somewhat different, no?

41

Yes James. It’s fun. A nice change of pace.

42

“It’s a classic piece of F1 gamesmanship by Alonso and Webber. Vettel accused the Australian of doing nothing to help him in their years as team mates. He knows now, if he had been in any doubt before, that his arch rival Alonso has an ally within his own camp.”

Vettel is smart, but not smart enough to keep his teammate on his side. Yes, he can win races on his own, but with a person from the same camp helping another driver, it’ll do more harm to him than necessary.

This year definitely will have a few races where Webber shoves Vettel aside and make way for Alonso. If this is to be his last year in F1 then there’s less for him to concern about in doing so.

43

As the previous race showed, RBR will not allow WEB to do that.

44

I don’t see what the big deal is really. 2 guys that have known each other for many years have a feed together.

What I do find funny is Webber saying (last year?) when asked about his relationship with Fernando. He responded something like “it’s not we’ve ever had a meal together or anything” 🙂

I get the Jenson references too. He’s as close to cool as these guys, he’s done a zillion GP’s and he’s a pretty decent bloke. BTW, Jenson took the photo 😉

45

Correct, he did say that!

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