Fernando, in his own words


In the past week, as Pitpass has already pointed out, much has been written, much of it utter rubbish, concerning Fernando Alonso and his relationship with Renault, following the Chinese Grand Prix, a race which Pat Symonds admitted was a "a race we should have won".

Following what most deem to have been an incorrect strategic decision at the first pit stop, Alonso's efforts were further thwarted when the second stop went disastrously awry when a crew member dropped a wheel nut.

Since then, comments have been attributed to the Spaniard, which, amongst other things, suggest that the French team is actually attempting to prevent him - the word "sabotage" has been used - from winning the World Championship, and thereby taking the number '1' to McLaren next season.

For much of the media, even the hint of an internal rift is manna from heaven, even more so at such a crucial stage of the World Championship.

On the other hand the merest suggestion that the team is attempting to kill his title hopes is an affront to every single man and woman employed by the French Formula One team.

At Suzuka today, Fernando was able to explain the situation in his own words.

Asked about the first pit stop, the Spaniard explained: "I said already in China that it was not a misunderstanding. I think everything was clear. The tyres from the car, and from TV, the left front looks OK, but a lot of wear, obviously. Nearly a slick. And because the second stint was 22 or 23 laps long we thought that maybe it was risky to leave that tyre on and maybe to wear it too much and so we decided to change the front tyres.

"The first couple of laps are always difficult," he continued, "you have to scrub them and to get them into condition but this time and we took nine or ten laps to clean up the front tyres and I lost all the advantage but it was just for safety reasons.

"Afterwards, looking at the tyre, maybe it was OK, like Giancarlo and Michael, they kept on their tyres and they worked fine. Probably in my case it would have been exactly the same but it's only after the race (that you can be sure). At that moment, with 20 seconds gap, it was no risk to put a new tyre on and lose a couple of seconds just for safety.

As to claims that he has an issue with his team, Alonso said: "No, (there's) not a problem at all with anybody. I think all the rumours, I think… there is a funny story from Germany that Fisichella was going to Michael's party after the race and Fisichella was there and I was angry with him and the team. There are always rumours that they try to put there but there is nothing true.

"What I felt there is that maybe I had a problem with the car that was a specific problem for ten laps, nine, eight or whatever, and probably I felt alone. I was first and my team mate was second and they came to me, they overtook me and they were gone. And after, when I recovered the pace, they were too far (ahead), and for sure it is like you are in the Tour de France in the mountains, climbing, you have a puncture or whatever and your team and your rival has gone uphill with no stops. That was a little bit difficult to understand.

Asked to explain in more detail what he means by feeling "alone", Fernando continued: "Well, you know, I had two difficult moments this year, one in Indianapolis, where I was not competitive, and one in China, where for 10 laps I was completely off the pace and losing four seconds a lap and, you know, these two moments, maybe, in my opinion, in team play, maybe, I should have had more help."

As to how the team could have given him more help, he said: "I don't know. I don't know. I fight with Fisichella in the last corner, Turn 14, once and he overtook me and I overtook him again because he went a little bit longer and these things, these risky moments - three races to win the championship - your team mate is a little bit… iIt's not good enough, I think."

So, just to clarify, does Fernando believe that there are people within the team who don't want him to win the drivers' championship?

"All the team, all the people, are really focussed for the championship," he replies, "and anyway we have been leading both championships all season nearly and now the last two races all the people is motivated and the atmosphere inside the team is just super and it's the last two races of me in the team as well and every single person in the team is just focussed on the championship."

And are the team more focussed on the Constructors' Championship?

"No," he replies. "For the team, it is more important the constructors, but they want to win them both. For sure…"

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Published: 05/10/2006
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