THE POLITICAL ANIMAL

 


So much can be written in this part. Fernando Alonso has been a driver often finding himself in the right place at the wrong time. He joined McLaren in 2007 expecting to be the dominant number one driver, the man to lead it is charge – only for Lewis Hamilton to be his rookie teammate.

He joined Ferrari in 2010 expecting to return it to glory – only for the team to fail to provide a competitive car, and then set its sights on Sebastian Vettel as its next world champion as relations with Alonso soured.

He went back to McLaren expecting to reap the rewards of a works deal with Honda, perhaps rekindling the heyday of the late 1980s and early ‘90s – only for the manufacturer to get the power unit badly wrong, and the team to also skew its car design (something only known this year).

But Alonso himself was not blameless. 2007 was the most obvious example, when he became embroiled in the ‘Spygate’ saga and threatened to blackmail McLaren over information he had as a result of the fall-out at Hungary, tensions having brewed throughout the season.

At Ferrari, the most political of F1 environments, Alonso again became part of the games. He pulled  It was a partnership that had so much going for it, yet when Ferrari caught wind of Sebastian Vettel’s availability for 2015, its head turned quickly.

Alonso had tried to call the team’s bluff, forcing him into the return to McLaren, as superbly reported by Mark Hughes for Motorsport Magazine. Ferrari even moved to privately quell suggestions Alonso could return when talk arose in 2017, such was the concern in some corners of Maranello he could return.

Perhaps it has all been fuelled by Alonso’s unwavering desire to win and be the best. He believed that to do so, he had to be involved at every single level.

The final act in the perceived tragedy of Alonso’s career has come at McLaren. Alonso himself is blameless for the team’s lack of performance, yet in his lambasting of Honda, he shot his future self in the foot. Had the souring of relations not been so public, Alonso may yet have landed a Honda engine deal for the Indianapolis 500 post-F1. Instead, the Japanese manufacturer is refusing to explore that avenue, largely because of how Alonso was.

What is worth noting, however, is that Toyota’s WEC team figures have had nothing but good to say of Alonso. Maybe it’s down to a change in environment, or a need to change approach – but there has been none of the political baggage.

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