Haug defends Dennis amid post-title scorn

Wed, 24 October 2007, 11:19

Former McLaren world champion Alain Prost says he sympathised with Fernando Alonso’s plight in 2007 under the hand of boss Ron Dennis.

The Frenchman, who infamously clashed with his then McLaren teammate Ayrton Senna in the late 80s, says he understands why Spaniard Alonso would complain about unfavourable conditions compared with his own teammate Lewis Hamilton in the latter part of this season.

He lays the blame at Dennis’ doorstep, who Prost says – despite the team’s constant protestations of equality – usually wrests his emotional support for one driver over another.

“He’s always had a tendency to sympathise more for one of the drivers of his team, for whom his protective attitude emerges,” Prost told the Italian magazine Autosprint.

“It was like that with Senna, with (Mika) Hakkinen, and now with (Lewis) Hamilton.”

Prost does not condone Alonso’s progressively unpleasant behaviour towards the end of this season, but he says Dennis’ skewed affection for his drivers is at least the “reason” that it occurred.

And he thinks Alonso, who arrived at McLaren as a double world champion, should have been designed number one.

“Probably Alonso would have won the championship this year and, in 2008, Hamilton would have appreciated this situation that would have allowed him to mature with no pressure,” Prost, 52, added.

Mercedes-Benz competition director Norbert Haug on Wednesday, however, defended Dennis, and said assessments like Prost’s are the natural result of hindsight about the 2007 championship outcome.

“I have worked with Ron now in formula one for 13 years,” the German told the news agency ‘sid’.

“He is a professional partner, whom I greatly admire. The winner will always be praised, and the loser censured, and if you are missing only one point, this still makes you the loser.

“Ron is our team chief, and so he is at the centre of the criticism. But he can handle it,” Haug added.

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