On-track rivalries are typically a good thing for the sport of Formula 1. Bad blood between a couple of drivers gives the press and fans something to talk about and can make the events more exciting. The exception to that rule, however, is when an intense rivalry arises among teammates. In 2007, the reigning World Champ Fernando Alonso was paired with rising superstar Lewis Hamilton on Team McLaren. As the season progressed, things could not have gone worse. From the book Speed Read F1: The Technology, Rules, History and Concepts Key to the Sport is a summary of McLaren’s bizarre season with their dueling drivers.
Fernando Alonso vs. Lewis Hamilton
Combining the hottest established talent with a promising rookie that McLaren had been grooming for over a decade ought to have created a winning combination. Instead, the partnership of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in 2007 resulted in unprecedented rancor, magnifying the impact of a damaging scandal that left the team $100 million poorer. It could not have gone more wrong.
Alonso had been managed by Renault team principal Flavio Briatore, but he wanted to control his own destiny. As such, at the end of the 2005 season—having just won the world title for the first time with Renault— he privately concluded a deal with McLaren’s Ron Dennis to jump ship for 2007. At the same time, Hamilton was on the fast-track to F1 stardom. He had been under McLaren’s wing ever since he cheekily introduced himself to Dennis at an awards ceremony, at the age of ten, in 1995.
Within weeks of the 2007 season start, the cozy arrangement was falling apart. Dennis had led Alonso to believe that he would be the number one driver; instead, the world champion found himself partnered with an ambitious rookie who was thoroughly embedded in the McLaren world and expecting—and receiving—equal treatment. Hamilton was also fast enough to give Alonso a fright, finishing closely behind him in the first two races and then ahead in the following two.
A situation similar to that between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost developed, one so dysfunctional that the two drivers actively sought to sabotage one another. In public, it came to a head during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix when Alonso spoiled Hamilton’s final run.
Alonso also threatened to approach the FIA with damaging information relating to the growing “Spygate” scandal, in which a McLaren designer had illicitly obtained Ferrari designs. This forced Dennis to contact the FIA and begin to backtrack on earlier denials, opening the door to further action.
Fittingly, perhaps, with each having damaged the other’s prospects, neither Alonso nor Hamilton won the world title that season.
Prepare to enter a world of speed with Speed Read: F1. This arm of racing can be intimidating to get into, but this intro guide is loaded with all the information you’ll need to get into Formula 1.
You’ll get the history of the sport, biographies of major drivers and figures who have dominated the sport in its long and storied history, and a rundown of the incredible technology that makes these cars so fast that they stay glued to the road.
You may not guess it, but the world’s premiere automobile racing series takes the Formula One name from the set of rules governing the class. Plans for a Formula One drivers’ championship were floated in the late 1930s, but shelved until after World War Two. In 1946 the first F1 races were held, but it wasn’t until 1950 that the details for a true world-championship series were hammered out.
It was a long road from the 1930s to now for this great sport; one marked by glory, championships, iteration, technology, and speed. Don’t be intimidated by this incredible culture, dive into F1 Racing today!