Hamilton and Alonso clear the air in Istanbul 24 Aug 2007
Things were very relaxed in the McLaren camp yesterday after Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso spent the day bonding in a downtown hotel in Istanbul.
It marked the first time that the two had actually met face-to-face since the acrimony that surrounded them in Hungary, where Hamilton extended his lead in the world championship by scoring his third win of the season and Alonso, penalised five grid places for impeding him in qualifying, had to be content with only fourth place.
The meeting was Ron Denniss idea and was intended to clear the air between them ahead of practice today.
Hamilton admitted after the race that he had not spoken to Alonso since the stewards decision to side with him and to penalise Alonso, though they have since spoken once by phone during the summer break. Hamilton has insisted all through that they were not drivers at war. Yesterday Dennis insisted that they clear the air, as he and each driver already had during the hiatus. Both are now ready to resume their battle for the championship crown, on a track where Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa are expected to mount of stern challenge to McLaren.
Massa said yesterday: Its a special circuit for me. I got my first pole position, my first victory here so its very special. Hopefully we can repeat it, it would be fantastic. I like the track, I like the place, the country, the city and especially the track. Its very challenging for the drivers, so hopefully I can have a great result here on Sunday.
Unless the McLarens suddenly lose their reliability, Ferrari must rely on the internal battle there to help them catch up in the championship chase, but speaking of the rift between Hamilton and Alonso, Massa added: Actually we dont know exactly whats happened. We know that theres a big competition between the McLaren drivers but theres also a big competition between every driver. We know also that sometimes people talk too much, sometimes people write too much and we dont know exactly whats going on. So I think if you look from the first race until now we didnt see really a big, big problem, looking at the championship, because of them, of the fight from the McLaren drivers, so its very difficult to say that.
David Coulthard yesterday shed a little light on the situation with McLaren, his old team, when he said: Ron [Dennis] is clearly as experienced as any team principal to deal with this, having gone through similar situations if you go back to the era that I remember watching when I was growing up: Prost and Senna. And Im sure it was maybe happening with other McLaren drivers before that. So it is a difficult scenario and I think that Ron put it forward in Hungary that to try and create an environment as transparent as possible so that neither driver feels that ones being favoured over the other, and then for the rest he cant control what they do once theyre in the car. A completely rational, sensible person can do the craziest things when the emotions are running high.
Meanwhile, down at Spyker, the main emotion yesterday was disappointment that the debut of their revised B-spec car has been postponed until the Italian Grand Prix due to an unexpected failure to pass the mandatory FIA rear impact test. Chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne, said: Obviously its very disappointing to delay the launch, especially considering the hard work that everyone at the factory and track has put in. Unfortunately last week we had an unexpected failure of the rear crash test, possibly due to problems with a batch of material used. Unfortunately all the other structures available we had to test were from this batch and the modifications we tried to make were not sufficient. These tests are quite rightly very stringent and difficult to pass, but we did not expect to have a problem as the structure is very similar to the A spec one. We are confident that we understand the problem, however, and should be able to pass with no problems next week.
He added: We will now concentrate on doing the best we can this weekend. As we were aware we had a problem we brought two A spec cars as well as two B spec cars, so we will not have any problems switching back, but it's just disappointing not to have the performance increase as planned. On a more positive note, we will now be able to test the car at the pre-Italian Grand Prix test next week at Monza, which should allow us to be in better shape.