Not everyone at McLaren is happy to see the back of Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard's input in improving that MP4-22 rated highly among those who worked most closely with him.

According to, Alonso's engineers were disappointed to see the inevitable split between driver and team after an acrimonious season that saw the double world champion clash, not only with senior management, but also with rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton, as the Briton proved to be more than a match as 'team leader'. Putting the petty bickering aside, Alonso's contribution to the team, both on track and off, was highly rated by those who could see the team benefit from his knowledge - despite the Spaniard's own claims of having helped move the team from a winless season to championship contender, being widely derided.

"I do not understand how they have been able to let him leave," one insider, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "He is an excellent driver that has contributed a lot to the team. It is very disappointing that he is not continuing with us.

The source admitted that Alonso clearly works better as a de facto number one, hence the problems that arose when Hamilton proved to be his equal and McLaren refused to favour his senior status in pursuit of the title, but praised Alonso's season on track.

"His only problem is that he functions better - and his performance is higher - when is the leader of a team," he said, "That's how it has been in the past, when he dominated his team-mates, but, this year, he found an equal in Lewis Hamilton. But he still only had a handful of poor races - in Bahrain, against Massa in Barcelona and with his accident at Fuji."

McLaren has yet to reveal Alonso's replacement, and appears in no hurry to do so. It's decision may have suffered a hit with Williams confirmation that Nico Rosberg would remain at Grove in 2008, despite rumours that a move to McLaren could still be negotiated. Test driver Pedro de la Rosa has been mentioned as a possible fill-in to keep the team's Spanish sponsors happy, but reports claim that team boss Ron Dennis is keen to promote youth after the success he found with Hamilton.

Should Rosberg be out of the equation, Adrian Sutil and Heikki Kovalainen would appear the favourites to partner Hamilton next season, although second test driver Gary Paffett would also fall into the category, even if the Briton would be a rank outsider for the role.



Loading Comments...