Fernando Alonso singles out Lewis Hamilton for Formula One title duel

 

It seems Fernando Alonso and McLaren expect Italian Grand Prix winner Lewis Hamilton to be the Spaniard's strongest competition in the final seven races of the 2012 world championship and, in McLaren's case, beyond that, for the team admit that they have no Plan B should he really move to Mercedes next year.

"At the moment McLaren have won the last three Grands Prix and they are in top form," Alonso said. "I think from Jerez in winter testing, Lewis was the driver that I respect more and we're still here; 13 races afterwards we are first and second in the championship. It will be tough until the end."

The McLaren chief executive, Martin Whitmarsh, expects his driver to stay. "I haven't given Plan B any thought," he said after the 2008 world champion scored his first victory at Monza. "We want Lewis to stay, and we want him to stay if he wants to stay. But when you are trying to win a championship, you have a number of priorities. You divide your time, energy and focus on those things – one of them is making the car faster, better; another is dealing with all the operational issues to make sure you don't make mistakes, and another is dealing with your own drivers. Rightly or wrongly, I haven't spent a lot of energy on the latter subject."

Hamilton's manager, Simon Fuller, has had talks with Mercedes, provoking speculation from BBC pundit Eddie Jordan that a move is imminent. Relations between Jordan and Whitmarsh became further strained when in an interview with the BBC, Whitmarsh said: "Any comment that begins with the words, 'Eddie Jordan understands…' is fundamentally questionable." Whitmarsh is keen to get the Hamilton situation sorted quickly and said he plans to speak with Fuller prior to the Singapore Grand Prix later this month. "As you know, we deal with management companies, not directly with drivers, which is the way of the world – or the way of the drivers – so I'm sure we'll be having those conversations very shortly," he said.

Speculation suggests McLaren may be offering Hamilton as little as $7.5m (£4.6m) compared with his current salary of $15m, and that Mercedes have offered him $12m. But sources in Germany insist Michael Schumacher will stay with the team, leaving no opening for Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Jenson Button has claimed he won't be riding shotgun for his team-mate. Button is 78 points adrift of Alonso compared to Hamilton's 37, but said: "I'm still going to try and win every race from here on in."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map