autosport.com - F1 News: Transcript highlights Dennis/Alonso row
Transcript highlights Dennis/Alonso row
By Pablo Elizalde Wednesday, September 19th 2007, 12:00 GMT
McLaren team boss Ron Dennis revealed at the spying hearing that he and Fernando Alonso were not on speaking terms following the Hungarian Grand Prix.
In the transcripts of the hearing, made public by the FIA on Wednesday, Dennis explains how cold his relationship with the world champion has been since the Hungaroring and as a result of Alonso believing he should get preferential treatment over Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.
"We are not on speaking terms, but that does not matter," said Dennis during the FIA hearing on Thursday, 13th September.
"We have not had any conversations since that point," added Dennis, referring to the conversation in Hungary in which am upset Alonso told his team chief he had information that could be used against McLaren in the spy case involving the British squad and Ferrari.
"First, the relationship between Fernando and myself is extremely cold. That is an understatement," said Dennis. "In Fernando's mind, there is the firm belief that our policy, whereby each driver receives equal treatment, doe not properly reflect his status as World Champion.
"He bases this assertion on the fact that his experience and knowledge and what came to him from his former team is such that he should receive an advantage.
"In that discussion, he was extremely upset with what had taken place the previous day, but nowhere nearly as upset as I was," added Dennis referring to the incident during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Alonso lost his pole position after a row with his teammate Hamilton.
"He said things that he subsequently and fully retracted. Within the passage of material, he made a specific reference to e-mails from a McLaren engineer. When he made this statement, I said, "Stop". I went out, brought Mr Whitmarsh him in, and Fernando said everything again, in front of his manager.
"When he had finished, I turned to Martin Whitmarsh, asking what we should do with this particular part of the conversation. Martin said we should find Max. After Martin and Fernando left, that is exactly what he did. I recounted the entire conversation to Max. I was upset and angry, but mainly upset. Max calmed me down.
"He said that I should do nothing. I started to calm down. Then, prior to the race, Fernando's manager came and said that he had lost his temper and completely retracted everything he said. When I phoned Max, Max was understanding and said things to me that are irrelevant here, though I would be more than comfortable sharing them.
"He was completely understanding and said that, on the basis of what I told him, if he felt there was any real validity in what Fernando had said, he would contact me prior to taking any action.
"I, however, on the basis that this was an engineering matter, I asked Martin whether he thought something was amiss in that area. He told me, 'We have been too thorough in talking to the engineers; he cannot have been telling the truth.' We subsequently had a reasonable Grand Prix.
"Fernando came to me. He had come in third. He apologised for the outburst and I put it down to the heat of the moment, in which he was angry. That is how I took it. Other than following up with Martin, the matter ended there, until 26 days later, when the drivers received a letter.
"What took place between those times, I do not know. I do not know what circumstances brought that into the public domain," Dennis concluded.
Dennis also revealed McLaren had asked Alonso to attend the Paris hearing, but the Spaniard had refused to go.
"Mr Alonso is not here because he does not want to be here," said Dennis. "He does not speak to anyone much. He is a remarkable recluse for a driver. He is not here by choice.
"Moreover, he said he had other things to do by previous arrangement. I cannot force him to come. We asked him to come."