Fernando Alonso once handed envelopes of money to McLaren employees in an attempt to win over teammate Lewis Hamilton.
That’s according to former team mechanic turned media personality Mark Priestley who made his claim about his tactics during their disastrous one-year partnership.
Alonso was emerging from back-to-back world titles with Renault when he joined McLaren in 2007, partnering with a young British rookie who seemed certain he was the team’s No. 2 driver.
However, this Briton was defending champion Hamilton, who didn’t take long to match the more experienced Spaniard.
The pair had four wins each and were inseparable as both earned 109 points in the world championships, just one point behind eventual winner Kimi Raikkonen.
Their time together only had one season before Alonso returned to Renault, with a number of infamous flash points, including Alonso keeping his pit mate to spoil his Hungarian Grand Prix qualification.
But that wasn’t far from the end of his bid for the seven-time world champion now as a former mechanic, Priestley revealed.
“One of Fernando’s tactics is to try to bring the whole team to his side from the garage,” he said. Explained on the PitStop podcast. “He’s trying to wrestle with control.
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“There was a moment during 2007 when we both had Fernando showed up in the race and I arrived and Fernando’s manager or coach was handing out little brown envelopes stuffed with cash to everyone who wasn’t on Lewis’s car.
“So his team, the support team, I was running a t-car team, we all got these little brown envelopes and I remember opening the envelope and there was 1,500 euros or something.
“It was very disingenuous, first of all I get an unmarked brown envelope and I like ‘Thank you so much what is that’ and the coach walks around and leaves you with this thing and you open it and it is literally full of cash.
“You started looking around and your classmates all pushed them all ‘Did I open up to you?’” How much did you get?’ And suddenly this started spreading all over the team and the only people who didn’t get it were Lewis’ crew.
“Suddenly he’s starting to show us what happened here, he’s looking for support, he’s trying to, let’s say, encourage people to support his side in this tough fight they’ve been in.
“On the one hand, you could say it was a smart tactic but in the end the team clearly figured it out and had us donate the whole set to charity, which was good, but it was an insight into the two different mindsets.
“Lewis did different things, Lewis played little games with the media, they all did things wrong and things were right, none of us were perfect, but they embarked on their strategy of being the best F1 driver that was different, and they both achieved great results in their own different ways. But they were two very different approaches.”
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