There has long been rumors of trouble between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at McLaren, with everyone involved saying everything is just fine over at Woking. In qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix it was more than clear that things are not ok, and that Ron Dennis does not have his drivers under control.
It started out before qualifying, where a team agreement had Alonso scheduled to be the guy making the last pitstop, and as such being the last McLaren driver on track at the end of qualifying, thereby getting the best shot at taking pole position.This agreement is nothing new, and is used to let the team work to a specific plan during qualifying, and as far as we are aware McLaren rotate this on a regular basis.
For some reason Hamilton did not agree with this for this weekend, as his half of the McLaren team got him out on track first for the all important qualifying three session, ahead of Alonso, which meant he would make the all important last pitstop behind Alonso, instead of in front of him as agreed. Keeping to the agreed plan the team did ask Hamilton to drop behind Alonso, but he did not do it.
It is important for teams to be very accurate and leave that last stop as late as they can as the pole lap is usually set on the lap after the checkered flag has flown, and with such a small window to get both the cars in and out while allowing just enough time for the out lap to get back to the checkered flag before the qualifying session ends, it is crucial.
With no choice because of Hamiltons refusal to allow him by on track, Alonso did pit first for his final stop. The stop was routine, but once he was cleared by the team to leave the pit he just sat there for another 10 important seconds, thereby delaying Hamiltons stop and making sure that Hamilton would not have enough time to get around the track in time to get that crucial last lap to challenge for pole position, leaving Alonso on pole.
Hamilton meanwhile was furious and had a heated exchange with team boss Ron Dennis over the radio, which infuriated Dennis so much he took off his headset and threw it onto the ground. Hamilton later apologized to his team principal, but the damage had already been done. Alonso was the one penalized by the stewards for bringing the sport into disrepute, and would take a 5 spot penalty on the grid, while McLaren for it’s part would be ineligible for constructors points for this race.
McLaren seems surprised that there is discord between it’s drivers, but at the same time it should come as no surprise. They have a young and hungry two time World Champion who is demanding respect, and on the other hand they have the new aggressive rookie Hamilton who is out to get every advantage he can possibly get. Whatever happens McLaren have vowed to keep their policy of equal status and equal equipment for both drivers, so fireworks can be expected, although I am sure Ron Dennis will be putting his foot down a little with his drivers, as this mess cost them valuable points in the constructors championship, something that is not acceptable to the team, and is about as bad as the drivers crashing into each other and taking them both out of a race.