autosport.com - F1 News: Dennis: Hamilton triggered incident
Dennis says Hamilton to blame for incident
By Mark Glendenning and Pablo Elizalde Saturday, August 4th 2007, 17:27 GMT
McLaren team boss Ron Dennis has confirmed Lewis Hamilton was to blame for the qualifying incident involving the Briton and teammate Fernando Alonso, after the rookie driver ignored team orders earlier in the session.
Alonso has been widely criticised after he waited for some ten seconds before leaving the pitlane during his final stop for tyres.
The delay meant that Hamilton had to sit behind Alonso and was then unable to complete his final flying lap.
The incident is under investigation by the race stewards.
Although the Spaniard had been waved by his "lolly pop" mechanic to leave the pitlane, Dennis revealed Alonso's engineer had instructed him to wait as a consequence of Hamilton disobeying the team's orders earlier on.
"He was being counted down by his engineer," Dennis told reporters after qualifying. "He's under the control of his engineer. He determined when he goes. That's the sequence.
"And if you think that was a deliberate thing, then you can think what you want. I have given you exactly what happened."
Dennis said Hamilton's decision to disobey the team's orders had compromised the team's plans during qualifying.
"They were out of sequence because Lewis should have slowed and let Fernando past. And he didn't. He charged off. That's how we got out of sequence," Dennis added.
He further explained: "We have various procedures within the team and prior to practice we determine how it is going to be run, what our strategy is, and how that's going to be enacted on the circuit.
"There are some procedural issues there on qualifying. One of the things that you'll have seen several times over the course of this season is long periods of time where the car has gone down to the end of pitlane and sat for a long time.
"In this situation, we are timed to when we can dispatch the car based on when the car reaches a given temperature, and then we know how long we can hold it at the pitlane.
"The cars are dispatched as soon as possible. In this instance, Lewis's car got up to that temperature first, we went Lewis, we sent Fernando, and the fuel burn characteristics [mean that] there is a small advantage which we play from driver to driver according to the nature of the circuit.
"In this instance, it was Fernando's time to get the advantage of the longer fuel burn. The arrangement was, OK, we're down at the end of the pitlane, we reverse positions in the first lap. That didn't occur as arranged. That was somewhat disappointing and caused some tensions on the pitwall.
"We were, from that moment on, out of sequence because the cars were in the wrong place on the circuit and that unfolded into the pitstops. It complicated the situation into the result, which was Lewis not getting his final timed lap.
"So this really started from that position, and from our drivers not swapping position to get the right fuel burn in order to arrive at the point where we cut the end result to the end.
"Now, as you have often asked the question, and let me make it a very honest answer, it is extremely difficult to deal with two such competitive drivers. There are definite pressures within the team. We make no secret of it. They are both very competitive, and they both want to win, and we are trying our very hardest to balance those pressures.
"Today we were part of a process where it didn't work, and the end result is more pressure on the team. But what you hear is the exact truth of what happened, and we will manage it inside the team through the balance of the season.
"Obviously Lewis feels more uncomfortable with the situation than Fernando. That's life, that's the way it is, and if he feels too hot to talk about it then that's the way it is.
"But what I've done is, I have given you an exact understanding of what took place today. And it's just pressure, competitiveness, and that's the way it is. We've just got to get on and deal with it, but we're not hiding from it.
"We're sat on the front row of the most difficult Grand Prix to win as regards to overtaking, and therefore we want to get on with the race.
"Fernando is here. Have I explained it accurately? [Alonso gives a thumbs-up]. OK. That's the way it is."