Surtees: Alonso has shown weakness

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Former world champion John Surtees believes Fernando Alonso’s actions during qualifying in Hungary revealed a crack in his armour that will play to team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s advantage.

The McLaren drivers were at the centre of controversy in Budapest after Hamilton disregarded team instructions to let Alonso past in the fuel-burn phase of qualifying and the Spaniard responded by delaying his team-mate in the pit lane, scuppering his chances of taking pole position.

Hamilton bore the brunt of the team’s criticism in its public statements on the incident – but Surtees believes Alonso was the more culpable.

“I have always rated him very highly,” he said.

“But what would appear obvious is that he values a position that is akin to a [designated] number one, and that his composure is very much disturbed by the threat of another team member outperforming him.

“Whatever happened before, I was deeply concerned to see the very obvious delaying tactics which took place in the pits.

“I was concerned not only for Lewis but also for the team and our sport, and also for Alonso as he won his championships on merit.

“I believe these actions show weakness rather than strength.

“It was obvious what Ron Dennis’s thoughts were by the way he clasped the neck of Alonso’s personal trainer and walked away with him.

“How he is going to continue to fit in with the stated equal car and support policy that McLaren Mercedes advocate we have yet to see.”

Surtees believes Alonso’s loss of composure and Hamilton’s accomplished victory in the race will have given the Briton the psychological edge at a crucial point in their title duel.

“Hamilton would have come away from Hungary with an even greater determination to get the job done,” he said.

“From Alonso’s perspective I think he has treated Hamilton totally wrongly.

“By showing the petulance he has, he has shown weakness, whereas with his superb record and ability it would have been far more effective in countering the Hamilton threat if he had taken the high ground, complimented Lewis on what he had done and then proceeded to channel all his energies to demonstrate what he can do on the track.”

Surtees was also concerned that Hamilton’s reputation may have been unfairly tarnished by media reports – subsequently refuted by the team – claiming he used foul language in a heated radio exchange with McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

“The misreporting over language used I found disappointing, as here we have a young man who has presented himself off the track in an exemplary manner, communicating well and everything about him showing the pleasure that he gets from what he is doing: a role model for all.

“To try and bring it down to a level that is common place with our so called stars of the world of football is disappointing at the very least.”

Although Hamilton is by far the least experienced of the four title contenders, Surtees says this gives the 22-year-old rookie the chance to put his rivals off-balance.

“We have a championship poised with four very competitive drivers and two equally competitive teams, and three of those drivers will still be uncertain of quite who Lewis Hamilton is and what he is capable of,” he said.

“That makes for an interesting rest of the season as they find out.

“All I hope is that the championship is decided by the performance of the cars, teams and drivers on the track and not by court sessions inspired by the greed of what are basically one or two fringe would-be opportunists.”
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