"There was like €1,500"- Here's how Fernando Alonso used to lure McLaren staff to join him over Lewis Hamilton

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Previews
Lewis Hamilton (left) and Fernando Alonso (right) at the 2018 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Previews

Former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley recently revealed that Fernando Alonso had previously used financial incentives as tactics to lure the team from Lewis Hamilton's side of the garage back in 2007 when both drivers raced for McLaren. The Briton was in his debut year but came in like a storm, taking away glory from two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who reportedly handed envelopes with cash worth approximately €1,500 to incentivize all team members to support him.

2007 🇯🇵 Fuji Speedway 🇬🇧Lewis Hamilton(🇬🇧Mclaren) and 🇪🇸Fernando Alonso(🇬🇧Mclaren)

Speaking on the PitStop podcast, Priestley said:

“One of Fernando’s tactics is to try and bring the whole team over to his side of the garage. He tries to wrestle control. There was a moment during 2007 when we had them both where Fernando turned up at a race and I arrived and Fernando’s manager or his trainer is handing out little brown envelopes stuffed with cash to everybody who wasn’t on Lewis’ car. So his team, the support team, I was running the t-car team, we all got these little brown envelopes and I remember opening up the envelope and there was like €1,500 or something.”
“It was so dodgy, first of all you just get an unmarked brown envelope and I’m like ‘thanks very much what’s that’ and the trainer wanders off and you’re left with this thing and you open it up and it’s literally just full of cash. You start looking around and your colleagues have all got them going ‘have you opened yours? How much did you get?’ And all of a sudden this starts spreading around the team and the only people that didn’t get them were Lewis’ crew. All of a sudden it starts to dawn on us what’s happened here, he’s looking to gain support, he’s trying to encourage, let’s say, people to support his side of this intense battle that they were in.”

The 45-year-old added that Lewis Hamilton handled such situations differently than Fernando Alonso, emphasizing that the Mercedes driver "played little games with the media." He said:

“On one hand you can say it was a clever tactic but in the end, the team obviously found out about it and made us donate the whole lot to charity which was fine, but it was a little insight into the two different mindsets. Lewis did different things, Lewis played little games with the media, they all did things wrong and things right, none of us are perfect, but how they went about their strategy for being the best Formula 1 driver was different, both achieved great results in their own different ways but they were very different approaches.”

Fernando Alonso admits there was "tough" but "fair" competition between him and Lewis Hamilton

Although Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were only teammates for one season at McLaren, they were known to have some friction in their relationship at the time. The two-time world champion has, however, confirmed that while the two were certainly competitive, they were fair. He also claimed that McLaren did not have a good hold over the situation.

Fernando Alonso claimed his final victory with McLaren at Monza #OnThisDay in 2007.Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in second place to make it a 1-2 for the team at the #ItalianGP. 🏆🇮🇹

In 2021, as reported by PlanetF1, Fernando Alonso said:

“Lewis came into F1 like a tsunami with all his talent and abilities and results, immediately results – that was intense and also challenging for everybody. Looking back, and I think Lewis will think the same, we have no issues between us, we had a very tough competition, but fair. Honestly, I think and him as well, the team didn’t handle the situation.”
“I don’t want to blame Ron [Dennis, then team principal], I don’t want to blame a particular name but as a team and as a management, we were too young, too ambitious and no one guided us.”

Since his debut in 2007, Lewis Hamilton has won seven world championship titles but is not in contention for the same this season. Fernando Alonso, on the other hand, has not won a title since 2006.

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Edited by Anurag C
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