Dennis, Haug, hit back at Alonso protest

Wed, 13 June 2007, 01:15

Mere days after the Monaco ‘team order’ controversy, McLaren is once again mopping up a media storm.

World champion Fernando Alonso, whose Monte Carlo victory was openly protected by Ron Dennis’ team strategy, this week accused McLaren of favouring Lewis Hamilton after the British rookie won Sunday’s Canadian grand prix.

The resulting press coverage has forced team boss Dennis, and engine partner Mercedes’ competition chief Norbert Haug, to counter the claims in the days before the weekend’s US grand prix.

“I can categorically state once again that both drivers have equal equipment, equal support and equal opportunity to win within the team and both Fernando and Lewis know and support this,” Dennis said.

He added: “Fernando’s comments when read carefully are correct — he hasn’t been with the team long and the relationship can only continue to develop. The team is not going to do anything to jeopardise this positive and growing partnership.”

Dennis accused the media of hanging “on every word” uttered by the Woking based outfit’s driver lineup, after it was Hamilton’s post-race comments that sparked the media furore and FIA inquest post-Monaco.

“And sometimes quotes are taken out of context which can put a completely different spin on an innocent remark,” he charged.

“The team is made up by extremely passionate and competitive people and there is a healthy competition between the teams working on each car — this is inevitable and there is no issue with that.”

Bild newspaper, meanwhile, quoted Mercedes’ Haug as suggesting that the “heat of combat” had moved Spaniard Alonso to vent his frustration after losing his lead of the drivers’ championship to Hamilton in Canada.

“Sometimes in those circumstances you say things that don’t truly reflect your real thoughts,” the German said.

“McLaren-Mercedes has two perfectly equal drivers, we are well known for our fairness and this will remain the case.”

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