McLaren is to be specially watched over the weekend of the Brazilian Grand Prix in case it should do anything that might disadvantage Fernando Alonso in the title fight, according to Spanish newspaper AS.

A story on the paper's website claims the FIA will designate an Interlagos official to keep a close eye on the movements of the Woking-based squad throughout the weekend, as Alonso, team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen go head-to-head for world championship glory.

The Spaniard could not contain his fury after being outpaced by Hamilton to the tune of almost seven tenths of a second in qualifying for last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, and in an angry outburst is alleged to have later said: "My confidence in this equipment is zero."

A subsequent formal request from the Head of the Spanish Federation of Motoring, Carlos Garcia, has since led to the FIA taking this unprecedented step, particularly in the light of speculation that the tyre pressures on Alonso's car were altered before the third and final phase of qualifying in Shanghai.

McLaren yesterday moved to defuse the debate by issuing a press release promising absolute parity of equipment for both drivers in Brazil.

'Following suggestions that there might not be equal treatment for Fernando and Lewis,' the statement read, 'the team wants to make it absolutely clear that its policy of treating both Fernando and Lewis with complete equality and fairness will continue for the final race in Brazil on Sunday, 21 October, 2007.

'This policy has been conducted throughout the year, and McLaren and Mercedes-Benz will continue to take every step that is within their control to ensure that both Fernando and Lewis will enjoy the same opportunity to win in terms of equality of car, engine, tactics and use of resources.'

Both Ron Dennis and Norbert Haug were also keen to stress it would be an entirely level playing field in Interlagos, with the destiny of the crown hanging in the balance following Hamilton's failure to finish in Shanghai and the drivers separated by a mere four points at the head of the standings in the Briton's favour.

"This has been a tremendous season to which the McLaren-Mercedes team and our drivers have, I believe, contributed a great deal," insisted team chief Dennis. "This contribution has been enhanced by allowing Fernando and Lewis to race each other with complete equality. This will, of course, continue in Brazil where the entire team will be doing its absolute best to win the drivers' world championship."

"There have been a lot of suggestions and rumours about equality in the team this year," echoed Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Haug. "The current points standings illustrate better than anything else the fact that equal treatment is in place.

"During the twelve years Mercedes-Benz and McLaren have been working together all drivers in the team have had the same possibilities to perform. We will not change this principle for the next race which is the last of the thrilling 2007 season, and we will see both Fernando and Lewis competing for the drivers' world championship title."

 

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