Haug denies Alonso released from contract

Wed, 8 August 2007, 12:33

Norbert Haug has dismissed British media reports that claim Fernando Alonso has been told by his McLaren-Mercedes bosses that he “can leave” at the end of the year.

Spain’s reigning world champion joined the Woking based outfit on a three-year contract in 2007, but he has fallen out of favour with his British teammate Lewis Hamilton and team boss Ron Dennis.

“They’re so fed up with him,” a ‘well-placed source’, referring to 26-year-old Alonso’s bosses, was quoted as saying by The Times after the tumultuous Hungarian grand prix.

Team carmaker partner Mercedes-Benz’s Norbert Haug, however, insisted to the Bild newspaper on Wednesday that Alonso wants to stay at McLaren.

Asked if he would bet on it, the German answered: “This question did not even arise. We have a valid contract, so why do I need to bet?”

Haug denied that Dennis has freed the driver from the constraints of his binding contract, even after Alonso in Hungary refused to commit to the team for the full three-year term.

Haug continued to the German newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten: “We have now begun the summer break so for the next three weeks it is necessary for the media to write something.

“I know this very well and for that reason I am calm,” Haug, who used to be a journalist, added.

He admitted, however, that McLaren’s fractious team players – including Alonso, Hamilton and Dennis – will sit down for crucial talks prior to Turkey.

The F1 correspondent for Spanish newspaper Diario As, Carlos Miquel, also contradicted the Times article by claiming that “even Dennis does not have the power” to unilaterally cancel Alonso’s watertight contract.

The only scenario in which releasing Alonso would be unconditionally allowed is if Alonso “fails to fulfil his obligations” to the team.

And “at the present time, only a strong sanction for McLaren in the Court of Appeal (espionage case) could release Alonso due to the damage to his image,” Miquel added.

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