Debate: Can McLaren handle two stars?

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Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Mercedes, Indianapolis, 2007‘Experts’ are queueing up to tell Ron Dennis that he’s wrong to have two top drivers in the same team fighting for the championship.

The battle for the championship could be fought exclusively between McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso this year.

Will it inevitably lead to a fall out at McLaren?

Dennis has plenty of experience of this sort of thing. From 1988-9 Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost fought bitterly over the world championships at McLaren.

In 1989 Prost announced his intention to leave, then crashed into his team mate at the penultimate round to claim the championship.

Prost is the latest commentator to warn Dennis about the burgeoning rivalry between Hamilton and Alonso.

Could it really escalate to Prost vs Senna proportions?

I think Dennis is doing entirely the right thing. I’d far rather see two drivers battle it out in the same team, than the kind of situation there was at Ferrari from 2001-4. If Rubens Barrichello had been allowed to challenge Michael Schumacher at Ferrari some of F1’s dullest seasons might have been a lot better.

How do you see the inter-McLaren battle developing? Is Dennis doing the right thing?

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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7 comments on “Debate: Can McLaren handle two stars?”

  1. It’s entirely good for the fans. They push each other hard, and that’s good to watch.

    But for McLaren, it’s not all good. If a Prost-Senna rivalry repeats itself here, it may cause problems. For starters, they won’t help each other with information on setup and the like. Therefore, they won’t be as fast. It won’t always be a problem, but it will occasionally be a problem.

    Also, the last thing Ron would want to see are 2 perfectly working Maccas running into each other.

    So from a fan’s perspective, he’s doing the right thing, for sure. But from a winning the championship perspective, he’s not. If Ferrari bounce back, letting the McLarens fight each other means they take away points from each other (and if they take each other out, constructors points go down the drain too). Remember, Williams were by and far the best team in 1986, but the team didn’t get both titles.

  2. I don’t think I’d complain too much if I was in McLaren’s position. They’re grabbing the headlines with Lewis and Alonso whether they’re winning races or whinging about favouritism, so the team are hardly losing out if their sponsors logos appear in every paper.

    If there’s one team down the pitlane that knows how to handle two top-line drives it’s McLaren. Don’t forget that with Prost and Senna in 1988 they won all but one race of the season.

  3. if the McLarens fight each other for 1-2 and steel 2 points from each other, no Ferrari driver can win the championship. The gap is too big now.

    But if Ferrari gets the upper hand again and McLarens will be fighting it for 2-3 or 3-4, taking each other out once or twice, than that would be different story. However Ferrari is not a team with clear No. 1 either (as yet) and if they want to keep in the fight for driver’s championship, they may should get behind one of the drivers ASAP … They are the team that now can’t afford waste th points Every time Kimi finishes ahead of Massa will only make the gap to no 1 bigger …

  4. The team drivers are simply not going to accept a 1-2 arrangement, so there’s no point imposing one. Hamilton knows he can challenge Alonso for the championship and vice versa, plus neither of them have ever been No. 2 in their careers. Alonso certainly doesn’t have the temperament to accept a No. 2, and while Hamilton does, it would be with considerable reluctance (more so than Barrichello at Ferrari – he’d figured out that Michael had already spun the team around him).

    As a result, equal No. 1 status is the only way to go. Both of them are mature enough not to fight each other in an irresponsible manner, but it does seem to bring out the competitive spirits in both. I don’t think Ron expected to be in this happy situation at the start of the season, but he’s not likely to be regretting it either. Neither should we.

  5. When they’re dealing with the two most competitive drivers in the game right now, it would probably be more unwise to restrain one- or both.

    First mistake is to assume Ron Dennis doesn’t know what he’s doing. Second mistake is to assume the driver’s fight isn’t best for them, the sport, the team, and the fans.

    I think everyone’s just shocked because we haven’t had anything not so meticulously controlled and ‘PR-clean’ in many, many years. We’ve forgotten that there should absolutely be fervent competition in the topmost level of motorsport.

  6. helen stringer
    8th July 2007, 15:15

    I think Alonso needs a reality check. He comletely ignored Hamilton on the backstage and on the podium. He is sour faced and graceless. Get rid!!!! He was last years champion, not necessariy, this years. Stop throwing your rattle out of the pram, Alonso, if Hamilton winds he wins, but something happened today to make sure he didnt, didnlt it!!! I havent made this comment before, but obviously its a common thought!!!

  7. Helen,I could argue in the same manner that it was Lewis who was ignoring Alonso.After all,if he can pat him on the podium and during the conference,can’t he show the champion a little more respect?
    Maybe they were both ignoring each other.

    And what happened today was Hamilton’s fault and not Alonso’s or Mclaren’s.

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