Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2018

Alonso disagreed with McLaren over call for intermediates

2018 German Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso told McLaren they called him in “way too early” for intermediate tyres during the German Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was one of several who pitted when rain hit the track during the race to fit intermediate tyres. However Alonso warned his team the tyres would be “destroyed in the dry parts” following his tyre chance.

Shortly afterwards Alonso told the team his tyres were ruined. Asked where on the track rain was falling he answered “nowhere”. Alonso had to pit again for dry weather tyres which dropped him out of contention for points.

When the rain returned later in the race the team asked Alonso which tyres he wanted. He told them to leave him out on slicks.

Shortly before the end of the race Alonso asked his team if they wanted him to finish. He was told to come into the pits to retire.

“They told me to retire the car and come slow,” Alonso explained afterwards. “Probably they saw something on the data.” The team said they retired his car due to concerns over his gearbox.

“We bet on the rain, we changed to intermediate tyres when it was still dry, and we killed the tyres on the dry track,” said Alonso after the race. “It was a gamble race and at the end we didn’t score points but happy anyway.”

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Selected Fernando Alonso team radio messages from the German Grand Prix

From his pit stops during the initial rain:

To Alonso:So Fernando we’re currently P15, net P13. There’s potential for heavy rain in 15 minutes.
To Alonso:Nice lap Fernando. So the rain does look to be imminent, possible that it’ll hit turn six now.
From Alonso:And when? Because you treat these tyres differently.
To Alonso:First laps have been reported at turn six this lap.
From Alonso:Yes, few laps in turn six so keep updating me now every lap. Keep the radio open constantly.
To Alonso:OK mate, understood.
To Alonso:OK Fernando box now, box now, stay right of bollard.
From Alonso:Box now?
To Alonso:Box now, box now.
From Alonso:OK box, box. For what?
To Alonso:We’re boxing for inters.
From Alonso:Way too early. They will be destroyed in the dry parts.
To Alonso:Entry 10, entry 10 before you stop.
From Alonso:But not for inters, man. I tell you when to stop.
From Alonso:Tyres are destroyed. So yes, now when it rains and everyone stops, tell me, and we’ll stop again.
To Alonso:Fernando where on the track is it raining?
From Alonso:Nowhere.
To Alonso:OK Fernando box now, box now.

From the Safety Car period:

To Alonso:Fernando there’s yellow flags turn 13. Safety Car deployed, Safety Car deployed. What’s your position on tyres? What do you think about inters or wets?
From Alonso:OK dry, OK dry.
To Alonso:Understood, stay out.
From Alonso:They need to let unlap the cars.
To Alonso:And Fernando how are the track conditions?
From Alonso:They’re mixed. Some corners dry, some corners very wet.
To Alonso:OK understood. Are you happy to stay out?
From Alonso:We are last so I don’t care.
From Alonso:We are fighting with no one, no? Everyone is in another lap.
To Alonso:So Fernando we’ll be fighting with Leclerc in front and Gasly who is behind.
From Alonso:But we are one lap also behind the Force Indias, or no?
To Alonso:Yes, Fernando.
From Alonso:No way we can recover another lap, no? With the Safety Car.
To Alonso:Fernando we think they’ll restart it and we will remain one lap down.
From Alonso:The whole circuit I have number 14 blue flags.
To Alonso:The cars we have to let through are Hartley, Grosjean and Sainz.
From Alonso:I don’t care. I will let through people because I have blue flags all the circuit, even if you tell me not.
From Alonso:You want to finish?
To Alonso:OK Fernando we have to retire the car, we have to retire the car. It will be box this lap, please.

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38 comments on “Alonso disagreed with McLaren over call for intermediates”

  1. It is a normal protocal for teams to ask the drivers about conditions during wet races. McLaren didn’t and just pitted him. Amateur hour from them, Alonso is right to question the decision.

    1. McLaren didn’t and just pitted him.

      Which is also what Toro Rosso did with Gasly (for full wets):

      Gasly didn’t expect team to fit full wet weather tyres

    2. When will teams learn “pit first, ask later” never works in this situation?

  2. What on earth is going on there? Why would you hire a top driver and pay him so much money to then simply completely ignore his advice.

    I really hope Alonso is looking for a seat elsewhere.

    1. Yeah but where? There’s not many options for him I reckon. Maybe Haas or racing in other categories.

      1. Now Marchionne is gone he may get his car back at Ferrari for next year!!!

        1. Another Vettel bungle would hopefully (for Alonso fans) convince Ferrari they need someone else to lead the team. Still, can’t see that happening with the German still on contract.

    2. Its sad, cos back in the day, he would have just said no and stayed out regardless.
      He’d only been on the mediums 14 laps and didn’t need to stop at all in my opinion, not even for Ultras.

    3. Its sad, cos back in the day, he would have just said no and stayed out regardless.
      He’d only been on the mediums 14 laps and didn’t need to stop at all in my opinion, not even for Ultras.

  3. what a farce at McLaren (the team). Pitting the most experienced driver and 2x WDC against his will on tyres he does not seem want.
    I do not hold the Racing Director for this ‘dud of a car’, but he is responsible for these calls. Next reshuffle needed?

  4. Get the feeling its all coming to a head now with this relationship, and quite rightly.

    I saw that Alon even went into the pits on the last lap instead of finishing race.

    Time for his talents to take him to Indy…

    1. Gearboxes can’t be changed without penalty between races, unless it’s the sixth race the gearbox has completed… …or the car doesn’t see the chequered flag. I think it was canny strategy from a team and a man with nothing to lose.

  5. I tell you, Mclaren have improved massively with their new head of track side operations. Both cars are now qualifying close together and racing close together.

  6. ALO and McLaren are always improving a lot. Big step forward as always

  7. ”Embarrassing, very embarrassing.”

  8. All I can imagine was tha mclaren was hoping for a miracle. That the rain would have gotten worse. It obviously did not but I think it was even acknowledged at mclaren. They knew it was unlikely but at the same time even if there was just 1% chance it was worth taking.. I don’t really understand what were sauber doing with leclerc though. That was just so wrong.

    1. Dauber did the same thing, so why is the 1%chance not applicable to them.

  9. Neil (@neilosjames)
    23rd July 2018, 12:37

    Watched Ted’s Notebook last night and he said Vandoorne had also been called in for Inters, but he said he didn’t want to and stayed out.

    I’ve see Alonso as a rather strong character, so I thought he’d have got his own way too.

    1. From the transcript, Alonso said not for inters

  10. I tend to agree with Martin Brundle who has repeatedly stated over the past couple months, that Fernando doesn’t seem to have the same intensity that he usually exudes. There is only so much motivation somebody can muster up in the face of adversity, and I think Fernando is done.

    He will probably stay contracted to Mclaren in the way that Jenson was/is, and race in other categories (regardless of whether Mclaren enter IndyCar). I wont be surprised if Dan Ricciardo is contemplating the Mclaren seat, pending Alonso’s decision on next year, which is probably why he hasn’t signed with Red Bull yet.

    It sounds ridiculous to think that on the face of the current situation, but lets be honest, Ricciardo isn’t going to win a title at Red Bull should push come to shove there. Max is the favoured son there, and if I learnt anything from reading Mark Webber’s book, its that Christian Horner and Adrian Newey only have so much power, Marko is the kingmaker. Moving to Mclaren might be a good thing for Ric. He will get a handsome salary and be team leader/ number 1 driver. Sure, there may (will more likely?)be struggles, but I doubt Red Bull will challenge for the title next year, their performance will probably be the same as this year.

    Hopefully by 2020, Mclaren will have their management issues resolved, and they could be in a good position to win races (one can hope, no?).

    1. I mentioned this on Danny’s engine failure article, but that Renault power unit would be a hard horse to bet on given it’s lack of performance and reliability improvements (at least until the new regs). That combined with McLaren’s toxicity currently makes Red Bull’s near future with Honda look pretty good IMO.

    2. what makes you think that RIC would move from Red Bull to arguably the worst team on the grid?

      Maclaren are finished as a top tier team, expecting them to come back to the top after the the debacle of the past several years is like expecting Williams to suddenly come back to the top of the grid.

    3. I don’t understand why Brundle says Alonso doesn’t have the desire. I think he is wrong and it’s obvious.
      He doesn’t have a competitive car but he still it everything he’s got.

  11. I cannot really see why Alonso would want to stick around for another season. McLaren have switched engine supplier but they still don’t seem that competitive.

    I think also it would be a huge gamble for Daniel to go to McLaren. A couple of years there and he could be forgetten about if the car does not perform. I think it’s less of a risk to stay with RBR. He’s never really been outperformed by Max over a season and I don’t see why this would change.

    1. “McLaren have switched engine supplier but they still don’t seem that competitive”

      That is the understatement of the season.

  12. Shame, McLaren, Shame.

  13. RIC won’t go to McLaren.
    If Ferrari are smart they will sign him now for 2019. Vettel can’t do the job needed.

  14. Luke Longnecker
    23rd July 2018, 17:15

    If Mclaren had been this cautious in 2007, Lewis would have wrapped up the title in China.

  15. I think he’s off, trudging around in 12th on a good day can’t be rewarding for him, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. I think an Indy campaign will be far more fulfilling, and at 36 he may as well go do something he enjoys.

  16. This is a good site for those who want to hear all the discussions ALO had during the race weekend.
    If you want to save some time, start at the 71/2 minute mark and you will hear him disagree.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVLKSORezXg

    1. Which brings up a point. If this had happened to HAM, he would have undressed his team and the whole world would have known about it.
      I think Alonso acted in a measured manner even though he could have went bonkers.
      Much of the talk about him not being a team player is pure BS.
      All he wants to do is win.

      1. Absolutely agree.

  17. Pathetic performance by McLaren. Ditto for Williams. Two of the most respected teams in F1 can’t shake their dysfunction away. While no one can be at the top forever, it is embarrassing for British motorsports to see these two teams scrambling so bad.

  18. Watching Alonso during the race was so frustrating, he was on the same strategy as Hamilton but couldn’t protect his tyres as much due to being stuck in the midfield, when he pitted they put on the hardest tyre despite knowing rain was 5 minutes away, then pitted again for inters when not required.

  19. Hemingway (@)
    23rd July 2018, 21:49

    McLaren need a serious restructure, not just a shuffle of a couple of key roles. They need to change the way they operate. Even looking to their DISTANT past as a guide for today, because face it- nothing is working for them, and with just a few more years of this kind of performance it could be fatal.

    I fear that if the only significant change they make is to ‘sack Zak’ then they’ll continue to operate in this ineffective setup and waste another couple of years. Hopefully the board start making some drastic decisions.. Clear the slate and start rebuild from scratch!

    I used to hate McLaren, and I loved to hate them. For instance at the end of 2016 I made this smug a’hole video: https://youtu.be/RFeh3b8GVLY

    Nowadays I’m hating the board and the management because they can’t deliver anything. They’re a shadow of what they were, and it p’s me off. I want them to be a proper rival again.

    1. I don’t expect they will sack Zak – he will quit. He was hired for marketing and basically forced to take over the racing division recently. He has his own successful racing organization and doesn’t need McLaren.

      I think it can be turned around fairly quickly because last years chassis, while maybe not the best, was good enough for Alonso to say it was. They got the design wrong with the Renault engine change this year.

      A working wind tunnel is crucial and they don’t have that! Ferrari went through this in the past.

  20. Ferrari went through this in the past.

    Yes they did with Fernando. Funny that history has repeated itself.

  21. Seems to be team disharmony wherever this guy has gone.

    At Renault, Flavio sacked Trulli because he was a threat to his meal ticket.

    Couldn’t get along with Hammy at McLaren. To be fair though, Hammy has proven over the years that he’s difficult to get along with. I don’t know how Bono puts up with being talked to like Hammy does.

    Tried to blackmail Ron Dennis.

    Back at Renault, Flavio fixed the Singapore race by starting Alonso on an absurdly low amount of fuel and having Piquet crash at a predetermined time so that it would benefit Alonso’s fuel strategy. Of course, Alonso denied any knowledge of the fix. The odd strategy seemingly didn’t make Alonso suspicious of what was going on…

    Ended bitterly at Ferrari despite having the entire operations revolve around him. Late in 2012 they were having Massa take a gearbox penalty to move Alonso up one spot on the grid. Bottled it at Abu Dhabi 2010, was getting outqualified by Massa at the business end of the season in 2012. Had his chance two years but bottled it both times. The first half of 2013 he should have held the lead going into the mid-season break, but made too many errors (much like Vettel this year).

    And now McLaren. He’s a great driver, but McLaren is probably what he deserves because he burned every other bridge.

    Now off running around trying to get a “triple crown” to make up for his lack of F1 success. Doesn’t realise that LMP1 is a one team championship with second-rate drivers, and Indycars are a spec formula with even worse drivers. Winning those races doesn’t mean what it did in the 1960’s. Alonso would get more of a test in GP2.

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