With Fernando Alonso being mentioned as a possible teammate to Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes, invariably thoughts go back to their tumultuous partnership at McLaren back in 2007.
Since Nico Rosberg shocked the world with his decision to quit the sport only days after winning the world title, Alonso has been the fans’ favourite to replace the German, and even team chief Toto Wolff has revealed that the Spaniard is under consideration.
In an interview with AS, Alonso said, “I did not leave McLaren in 2007 because of Hamilton.”
And went on to recall the year he partnered with Hamilton at McLaren a decade ago, “At first I was told my teammate would be Kimi Raikkonen, but Kimi went to Ferrari. Then I was told Montoya, but he was injured. Then they said they would Pedro de la Rosa. But finally, a few months before the start of the season, Hamilton appeared on the scene. And I said, okay.”
“It was a surprise for the sport, because he was very strong. Unfortunately for the team it was not easy to handle the pressure that was created in these circumstances [of two fast drivers]. Political aspects emerged similar to Verstappen today – he was the symbol of the moment. The result was that we lost both the constructors’ and drivers’ title, due to a situation which was mismanaged.”
“The car was winner immediately. Starting from scratch was the way to g because 2007 was the year of change as the Bridgestone tyres had different characteristics and the car was very different car to drive, with a lot of oversteer. We had to change the way we drive. All this helped Hamilton and he was competitive immediately. With the best car we lost both championships. And that was a good reason for me to change teams,” explained Alonso.
Fast forward ten years and Hamilton is still winning and remains one of the most respected drivers in Formula 1 – team managers voted him best driver of 2016 – while Alonso is as highly rated but victories have dried up for him.
“I need to drive for a team capable of giving one hundred percent and for me to make the most of it. And if the team can not handle the pressure or act as expected, I’d rather look elsewhere for motivation. I am here to enjoy and give a hundred percent. If a team does not do what I expect then I will change, if I have the opportunity, as I have always done,” concluded the double Formula 1 World Champion.
Although Mercedes have indicated interest in his services, McLaren are adamant that their driver is staying with the Woking outfit.
Prior to the end of the season, Alonso made no secret of his desire to win the world title with McLaren-Honda, and said in September: “The goal is to be world champion. Hopefully we can be more competitive.”