Jo Ramirez, who for 17 years until 2001 was McLaren’s team coordinator, says the crumbling relationship of the Woking based squad’s current driver lineup reminds him of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
The 66-year-old Mexican recalls the late 80s, when Senna and Prost’s hostile rivalry and intense dislike of each other ended in famous on-track collisions for the titles.
“With each passing race it is more and more like that,” the Mexican told the Spanish newspaper Diario As, adding that he sees world champion Fernando Alonso as the instigator of the row with rookie championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
“Fernando is struggling to accept that McLaren is not like Ferrari where preference is given to one of the drivers.
“I have told him that he must to learn to co-exist with his teammate and win over the team. At the races I have gone to I see him in his own corner with his father and his friends — they are not trying to co-exist at all.”
Ramirez, meanwhile, does not criticise Hamilton for disobeying a team order during qualifying in Hungary, which Alonso said triggered the famous qualifying pit stop delay.
“Sometimes a driver has to make his own decisions,” he insists.
“It is true that Lewis basically owes his career to (team boss) Ron (Dennis), but he has also demonstrated that he is a winning driver who must defend his own ambitions.”
Ramirez said he hopes the drivers’ deteriorating relationship does not drive Alonso out of the team.
“Anyway, where can he go?” he wondered. “BMW, or back to Renault?
“If I was Alonso I would stay where I am because McLaren has the best car and probably still will have next year.”
Ramirez also doubts reports that say Dennis is willing to release Alonso from his contract at the end of 2007.
“If you release a driver from a contract you are effectively handing him to your competitors,” he said. “It is a difficult one.
“For example if Fernando goes to BMW, it is very possible that next year they could become a real threat and another rival for McLaren.”
Ramirez said: “At the end of the year Dennis will have to weigh up the situation and decide.”