Fernando Alonso has dismissed suggestions that Timo Glock 'gifted' the 2008 Formula 1 Drivers' World Championship crown to Lewis Hamilton in the Brazilian Grand Prix season finale at Interlagos, insisting he doesn't know how the German 'managed to get to the finish at all'.
Toyota's gamble to leave both Glock and Jarno Trulli in the sister TF108 out on dry rubber on an increasingly damp track surface in the closing laps around the Autodromo Carlos Pace in São Paulo very nearly paid off, as it elevated the former to fourth – until the second-to-last corner of the race.
Struggling even to keep his car on the circuit with perilously little grip, however, Glock ceded position just yards from the chequered flag to both Scuderia Toro Rosso ace Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton, enabling the Briton to reclaim the fifth place he so desperately needed to be able to pip Ferrari rival Felipe Massa to the laurels by just a single point.
Though Glock has been lambasted in some quarters for what was deemed to be 'allowing' the McLaren-Mercedes of his old friend past – some disgruntled fans even going so far as to write obscene insults on his personal website [see separate story – click here
] – Hamilton's former team-mate Fernando Alonso has sprung to the 26-year-old's defence.
“It is absolutely clear that Glock did not just let him pass, or do anything strange,” the former double F1 World Champion told Spanish newspaper Diario Sport
. “On the contrary, I don't know how he managed to get to the finish at all with dry tyres.
“On the last lap it was raining a lot; we were in the 1m20s (with wet tyres) and he did a 1m44s, the same as Trulli.”
Alonso has also confirmed, meanwhile, that he will only return to testing action with Renault ahead of the 2009 campaign in the 'last week of January', hoping that by that stage any teething difficulties generated by the introduction of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) and the sweeping aerodynamic changes being brought into play for next season will have been overcome.
“It will be important not to waste time in this period,” the man from Oviedo told Spanish publication Sport
. “All I ask is that, from an early point, the car is reliable so that we can begin to make good progress in terms of the development.
“It will be necessary to have a fast and consistent car that can always be on the podium, and in the decisive moments to rely on some good luck.
“We cannot forget that Massa would have been world champion if his engine had not failed in the last laps in Hungary.”