McLaren insists that all is well


On Thursday, McLaren, opted to keep its drivers away from the Istanbul circuit, in a clear attempt to avoid the media frenzy that has been building for much of the season, and which went into orbit in Hungary.

However, with two practice sessions to contest on Friday, there was no such option available and the drivers and team boss Ron Dennis had to sit down and face the press.

With rumours of Fernando Alonso moving elsewhere (but where?) or even taking a sabbatical, not to mention one Spanish newspaper claiming that he would retire, should he win the 2007 title, Ron Dennis was giving little away.

"We have contracts with both our drivers," he told reporters, "and there has been no dialogue about anything in respect of those contracts. It's just not an issue at the moment."

With regards the current situation, which is being carefully monitored, and indeed stoked, by the media, Dennis reiterated previously expressed sentiments.

"We run our team in a certain way," he said, "and we expect certain behaviour from every member of the team. The drivers subsequently spoke and reached an understanding between themselves. They're completely communicating and neither has a problem with the other."

However, despite the 'good intentions', many are all too aware of what went before, when Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna were teammates at McLaren. Recent events in Hungary appear to indicate that the Alonso/Hamilton 'relationship' is heading in the same direction, leaving many to speculate as to when things will 'spill over' once again.

"Sometimes it's difficult to achieve," Dennis admitted, "but we think it's the way to run a grand prix team and that's the way it's going to stay. The important thing is that everybody recognised what their contribution was to the difficult circumstances we had after Hungary and committed themselves not to allow those things to repeat themselves in the future races.

"It's a pressure situation and occasionally things are going to spill over," he continued. "But at the moment we're focused and pointing in one direction. If both drivers are committed to driving in this team in a fair way and committed to doing the best they can, I've achieved my objective."

Hamilton was keen to play down talk of a feud, putting much of the blame on the media.

"After the last race I called Fernando and said 'look, we can't go through the next three weeks without talking, or relying on what the media are saying, saying we're at war'," the Englishman revealed. "They were twisting things he had said, were twisting things I had said, and it made it seem as if we're at war. We're not!"

Due to their schedules the two drivers were unable to meet during the 'summer break', however, as McLaren has previously admitted, a 'clear the air' get together took place earlier this week, ahead of the Turkish GP.

"First we talked about how good our holidays were," said Hamilton. "Then I put my hand up and said, 'I apologise for everything that went on at the last race,' and he said, 'Me, too.' It was great to find that we do have respect for each other. I said, 'We're going to have a good battle to the end of the season,' and he said, 'I understand that'."

"Everything is okay now and the past is the past," said Alonso. "I talked with Lewis and we had to laugh. It's not a funny thing, but how we have been in the press all summer creating this fight with each other. We try to understand why everyone wants to put us in a fight, it is not the truth."

While some might say that this is a case of damage limitation, with McLaren attempting to paper over the cracks in a relationship that has already soured out of control, Hamilton insists that the team can put Hungary behind it.

"I'm not saying that all of a sudden everything is bright, but we've come back and all settled our differences and where we want to go," said the Englishman. "The team and myself want to move forward, so we've put it all in the past. I feel very comfortable and confident that we both have the opportunity to go out and battle each other. That's what racing is all about."

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Published: 25/08/2007
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