Fernando Alonso singles out Lewis Hamilton for Formula One title duel
Tuesday 11 September 2012
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."
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
First full-length look is finally here
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president
Brooklyn Beckham poses in Arsenal training kit following rumours of signing for the Gunners
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer news LIVE: Manchester United to make £37m Mats Hummels bid; Inter plan Yaya Toure move; Shola Ameobi joins Crystal Palace
Australian Open 2015: Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka match preview
Danny Ings to Liverpool: The Reds attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures