Despite being the accused in the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying farrago, Fernando Alonso has alleged that McLaren continues to favour rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The Spaniard lost pole position for the Budapest event after being found guilty of 'actions considered prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally', having appeared to delay his exit for a final run in qualifying enough to prevent Hamilton from being able to complete his own shot at pole. Alonso maintained that, despite the lollipop having been raised and Hamilton queuing in his mirrors, he was waiting for an audible signal to start his run. He started his flying lap just as the chequered flag was being prepared; Hamilton missed it by a handful of seconds.

A lengthy meeting of the stewards, to which the team and drivers were summoned, eventually decided that Alonso should be stripped of pole, starting instead from sixth place, and McLaren should lose the right to score constructors' points at the Hungaroring.

Although the two McLaren drivers posed together for post-session pictures, and refused to be drawn into a row in the ensuing press conference, body language said a lot, with Hamilton clearly frustrated at having been prevented from completing a clean sweep of qualifying sessions. Team boss Ron Dennis attempted to diffuse the situation by claiming that the entire final phase of qualifying had failed to go to plan, from Hamilton failing to yield to his team-mate during the fuel-burning laps - as instructed - via Alonso's tyre warmer becoming tangled in his suspension, to the denouement that led to the stewards' meeting.

Dennis' account initially appeared at odds with his reaction on pit-wall, where he could be seen angrily throwing down his headphones, but the team boss later insisted that that had not been in rage at Hamilton not being able to start his final flying lap, but instead as a result of a heated exchange with his prot?g? who, it is alleged, accused the team of 'screwing him' by delaying Alonso's exit in an effort to give the Spaniard clear track. Dennis, according to the Spanish press, suggested that the rookie not speak to him in those tones again, pointing out that it was he who had started the ball rolling by not following orders in the opening minutes.

Although the team insisted that Alonso was not to blame for the problem, the Spaniard appeared to be harbouring old grudges when appearing in front of television cameras. Asked why the team had not been celebrating taking the front row of the grid, El Pais reports that Alonso replied "because I am I first!". Asked if he believed that the team had wanted Hamilton on pole, the reply was "without any doubt".

Earlier in the day, obviously unaware of what was to unfold, Dennis had again told the media of the problems of trying to contain the ambitions of two competitive drivers within the fold, and the team boss again attempted to build bridges with his world champion in the wake of qualifying.

"Everything began at the start of the session, where nothing went to plan," he insisted, "I have just had a hard exchange of opinions with Lewis, and I am going to speak the truth. No-one must blame Fernando.

"I would like to be closer to Alonso. I have enormous respect for his abilities, and he has a magnificent relationship with his engineers and mechanics. I would like to be closer to him, but we are only at the start of our relationship. I expect that things will improve - as in a good marriage."

 

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