Fernando Alonso had a bitter rivalry with rookie Lewis Hamilton when they were paired as teammates with McLaren.
Prior to the 2007 F1 season, Fernando Alonso switched from Renault to McLaren. He was the defending world champion after winning the 2005 and 2006 championships.
Alonso has been paired with rookie Lewis Hamilton who joined McLaren after a successful GP2 campaign. Hamilton was the first driver to win a GP2 title in his rookie year and it was a bright opportunity for the future.
Alonso looked like the number one driver for McLaren. But after claiming his first podium in Australia, Hamilton made a strong impression on the F1 grid.
The duo clashed both on and off the track regularly during the season, which caused a heated scenario within the team. This soon led to a rift within the teams causing various fractures to develop.
The heated rivalry grew to the point where the other driver used to block the other’s chances of demanding a better result.
Hamilton and Alonso finished the season with 109 points. The two were tied with 4 wins and 12 podiums. But because Hamilton outperformed the Spaniard to qualify 10 times, he finished second in his rookie year.
That qualifying incident at McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton had disobeyed team orders, with Fernando Alonso jumping and leaving the pits first at the start of the third quarter, so the Spaniard responded by locking up the Briton near the end.
– Motorsports in the 2000s 🇭🇰🇬🇧 (CrystalRacing) August 4, 2020
After the Spygate controversy and its fallout with the team, Alonso’s contract with McLaren was terminated. Meanwhile, Hamilton has been offered a long-term, multi-million contract extension to race with McLaren until 2012.
Hamilton still considers Alonso one of his most feared rivals to date. But in his only season, Alonso made friends in the McLaren garage to help him win the championship.
Read also: Lewis Hamilton admits that the F1 star’s annual earnings of $20 million is the strongest opponent of his career so far
How Fernando Alonso used to bribe his mechanics
Former McLaren mechanic Mark Priestley said Fernando used to regularly reward McLaren mechanics. He used to share his earnings among his teammates to reward them for their efforts.
This was one of Alonso’s biggest attributes as he quickly became a favorite among mechanics. “One of Fernando’s tactics is to try and bring the whole team to his side from the garage,” Priestley said.
I’m sorry what the fuck is this crazy Fernando Alonso pic.twitter.com/rvQfuoxa5d
– Fionn (@fionsramblings_) September 14, 2022
But when Alonso was pressured by Lewis Hamilton, he used to gift mechanics who used to not work in Hamilton’s car. This was a “sharp” tactic the Spaniard used to gain an advantage over his rookie teammate.
He adds, “Fernando’s manager, or coach, was handing out little brown envelopes stuffed with cash to everyone who wasn’t in Lewis’ car. We all got these little brown envelopes and I remember opening the envelope.”
When asked how much Priestley got he said, “It was like 1,500 euros ($1,500) or something.” This shows how much of a threat Hamilton poses to a great driver like Alonso despite being a rookie.
Read also: Lewis Hamilton describes his victory over Fernando Alonso as a rookie
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