FERNANDO ALONSO and Lewis Hamilton were involved in an intense rivalry during their time as McLaren team-mates.
Fernando Alonso is a ‘winning’ driver says Lewis Hamilton
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Formula 1 icon Fernando Alonso has been accused by a former mechanic of ‘handing out bribes’ while the Spaniard was at McLaren in 2007. The two-time world champion allegedly used envelopes filled with cash to curry favour from within the team at team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s expense.
In 2022, Alonso and Hamilton remain on the grid and there is plenty of respect between the two multi-time world champions – but it was very different 15 years ago. Hamilton arrived at McLaren in 2007 and was later joined by Alonso, the reigning world champion, after the Spaniard decided to leave Renault.
Alonso assumed he would be the number one driver within the team, but Hamilton – 22 years of age at the time – immediately matched Alonso’s speed in his new car to finish on the podium in each of the first nine races of the season.
With the Brit leading the championship, their frosty relationship deteriorated as neither gave way to the other. Former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley has sensationally claimed the Spanaird offered cash to sway team members to his side, with Alonso’s manager handing out small brown envelopes to anyone not working on Hamilton’s car.
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Fernando Alonso has been accused of bribing McLaren team members amid 2007 Lewis Hamilton battle (Image: GETTY)
Speaking on the PitStop Podcast, Priestley said: “One of Fernando’s tactics is to try to get the whole team to his side of the garage. He is trying to take control.
“I remember opening the envelope and there was about 1,500 euros in it or something like that. It was so stupid. First of all, you get an unmarked brown envelope and I’m like ‘thank you very much, what is that?’ and the trainer wanders off and you’re left with this thing and you open it and it’s literally full of money.”
Alonso and the Spaniard’s current F1 team Alpine both declined to comment when approached by Express Sport. F1 have also been approached for comment.
Priestley added it was a clever tactic to garner support for his side of the garage amid an intense battle with Hamilton. However, the mechanic added the team found out and forced everyone to donate the amount to charity.
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Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were team-mates for just one explosive season back in 2007 (Image: GETTY)
The Hamilton-Alonso rivalry at McLaren in 2007 came to a head at the Hungarian Grand Prix as the Spaniard deliberately blocked his team-mate in the pit lane after the Brit had ignored team orders. Alonso was furious and threatened to hand over dubious emails to the FIA if McLaren refused to side with him over the rookie.
The feud led to the ‘spygate’ scandal surfacing, where McLaren had illegally taken technical information from Ferrari – the eventual 2007 champions – which saw the team fined $100million and expelled from the constructors’ championship that year.