Alonso has ‘chink in armour’ – Symonds

Thu, 4 October 2007, 01:09

Fernando Alonso’s “inability to accept being beaten” may explain the reigning world champion’s seemingly incurable rift with the McLaren team this year.

That is the belief of Pat Symonds, Renault’s engineering chief who worked closely with the 26-year-old Spaniard when he raced to two consecutive world championships in 2005 and 2006.

Symonds, who worked at Toleman with Ayrton Senna, and also with Michael Schumacher at Benetton, describes Alonso as “one of the most difficult drivers to understand” that he has personally encountered.

“He’s a very complex character,” the Briton said, amid Alonso’s seemingly broken relationships with his current team boss Ron Dennis and teammate Lewis Hamilton, who this weekend in China could wrap up the title.

“He only had one very, very small chink in his armour when he drove for us,” Symonds explained, “and that was the inability to accept being beaten.

“Actually that’s a really good quality, but it was the one time he was perhaps slightly irrational — when Giancarlo (Fisichella) beat him, for example.

“I think that what we’ve seen this year, with Lewis unexpectedly giving him such a hard time, it’s opened up that chink a little bit,” Symonds said.

Symonds’ boss Flavio Briatore, however, suggests that while Alonso can be difficult to work with, getting the most out of a driver is the responsibility of the team.

The Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport: “(Ron) Dennis has often alleged to be very good at managing drivers, especially the Latin ones.

“With the problems he’s had with (Ayrton) Senna, (Juan Pablo) Montoya and Alonso, he must have lost the instructions manual. Maybe he did not study Latin at school.”

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