British tabloids blame Alonso

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There have been many comments on my blog over the past few days claiming that the British media blamed Fernando Alonso for the qualifying controversy at McLaren without mentioning Lewis Hamilton’s role.

I took a look at all the reports in today’s papers and I was glad to see that all of the ‘quality’ newspapers covered the controversy quite fairly.

The tabloids, on the other hand, ignored or obscured references to Hamilton’s misdeeds, and almost universally portrayed Alonso as the bad guy. Here’s what they said.

The Sun, Britain’s most popular newspaper, completely ignored Hamilton’s role in provoking the controversy by refusing to let Alonso pass him at the start of qualifying:

The McLaren duo are at war after the Spaniard was hit with a five-place grid penalty for wrecking Hamilton’s hopes of pole position in Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday.

The Daily Mirror ran a piece on page nine that also ignored what Hamilton did. Its race report on page 58 described his actions in qualifying as having a ‘small part’ to play in the controversy:

The Spaniard unnecessarily impeded his team-mate and banished him from pole to sixth, elevating the rookie to front spot…

Hamilton had a small part to play in events as he had triggered it by ignoring team orders earlier in the session.

The story is much the same in the Daily Mail:

Alonso wrecked Hamilton’s probable pole position.

He calculatingly sat still in his pit box ?????? despite his tyres having been changed and the lollipop raised ?????? for an extra 10 seconds while waited just behind as the clock ticked down. Time ran out before the rookie could complete his final flying lap. It left him second to Alonso.

But give credit where it’s due – The Daily Star was the only tabloid to do the story justice and even mentioned Hamilton’s misdeed before Alonso’s:

Hamilton had earlier ignored McLaren team instructions by not allowing duble world champion Fernando Alonso to get by at the start of the final 15-minute qualifying session on Saturday.

And as usual the ‘quality’ papers – The Guardian, The Times, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph gave much more even-handed coverage.

I understand why people who live outside Britain want to criticise us and our media for portraying our home-grown sporting stars in a positive light.

But I hope they in turn recognise that usually it’s just hype in tabloid newspapers whose F1 coverage is virtually non-existent when there isn’t a controversy, a big crash, or a British driver doing well. There’s a reason why we call them the gutter press. I’ll certainly think twice before I make such assumptions about the Spanish or Italian media.

Photo: Daimler Chrysler

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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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10 comments on “British tabloids blame Alonso”

  1. Hey Keith ! I live in the U.S.A. and have to listen to and read a lot of other rubbish cranked out by the British “quality” newspapers, ALL of it unfair about the U.S.A. so a line or two of distortion on the Hamilton/Alonso/McLaren affair is almost re-assuring! At least they are ‘un-fair’ to others! Ha Ha !

    The U.K. newspapers aside, what about the F1 media, in particular some response to your article about “Contact in F1”. After the enormous flap over the Massa/Alonso incident I commented the Davidson/Fisichella ‘contact’ would go un-reported and the only words I could were squeezed out of the drivers themselves:
    Davidson speaking:
    “But in the end, when I was racing Fisichella out of the pitlane, he ran out of road on the cold tyres. I tried to give him as much room as I could without running off the circuit and we touched. I think it was a racing incident, but it was enough to break my rear suspension and put me out.”

    Fisichella speaking:
    “After my 2nd stop I tagged Davidson and my car was damaged, so it was difficult to drive.”

    That’s odd, I didn’t see any fist fight, no shouting match, and even the media ignored it.

    Racing the way it should be!

  2. Congratulations for your impartial point of view. I’m spanish and here happens pretty much the same. Why have not tabloids but whe have several “sport only” newspapers which aren’t exactly “serious”. Sometimes seems to be a fight no only between Hamilton and Alonso but also between sectors of the spanish and the british media.

    Again congratulations for your blog.

    Regards from Spain.

  3. The British papers, tabloids et al, are hillarious when it comes to any Brit in F1. Its not particular to the Brits though. You should see what its like here in the U.S. when an American wins a medal at the Olympics…

    That being said, I think culturally, Brits are maybe dramatic by nature. I have some family in England and they’re incredible. Everything is some sort of row. My cousin, born and raised in London, now living in NYC, is married to an Iranian-American. She loves the way he and his friends over-react to everything.

    Anyway, diversity makes it a more interesting world.


    Minneapolis-St. Paul, USA.

  4. The tabloids are always looking for sensational stories and this is the kind of thing that they want. I am not surprised to read about the impartiality but there you go – that’s their business and they know that sensational headlines sell papers.

  5. For which Hamilton always wants to have the extra return? Why if they punish to him he gets upset as a boy and he betrays to his equipment? Why to Alonso they put used wheels to make its return fast?

  6. You can add the Metro to the list of papers that completely ignored Hamilton’s role.

  7. Thanks, very good article, (althought I must admit I am not able to understand the last paragraph, please Victor could you help me?)

    I think it is not only the English that encourage their people, also Spanish press talk about Alonso like he was not human, but that is normal. But of course, the press should not ignore and therefore, encourage bad behauviours.

    As I see it Spaniard sees the following:
    – Ron Denis admit that Alonso did as arranged,
    – and Hamilton admit he did it wrong, but the English press keep on informing about Alonso bad behaviour and the punishment of the Fia, not admiting at least that it is strange that they jugde the team strategies.

    In Spain we are very angry and find very very strange the Fia resolution. That is the reason why I looked for more information in the English press. But after all I read, I still think it was very strange and not just at all. I still havent found a fairly good explanation for this.

    (sorry againg for my English)

  8. Thank you for your fair play and for your elegant article. I feel sorry because my English is not very good, but it has been enough to understand your article. I was looking in British Press for something slightly different from this stupid way that we have, English and Spanish people, to enjoy the F1. Certainly I admit that the Spanish people love very much Alonso but it is also true that most of the Spanish Newspapers of Sport speak abaut this stupid situation created by the Spanish and British press. They use to say that Hamilton is a brilliant, young and intelligent driver.
    But not always we agree with McLaren’s policy and we find very opportunist the summer love between Hamilton and the daughter of the associate of Ron Denis

    Well, I do not want to say any more bilges, only to congratulate you for your blog, from Spain and sharing the pleasure of the F1.



  9. congratulations from Spain for the hamilton´s recent world championship, to his father and to Ron Dennis too.

    Forza Ferrari and Forza Alonso

  10. If only Ron Dennis had gave the same opportunities to Alonso and Hamilton… It’s clear that Ron Dennis and McLaren had a clear favourite. If Alonso had had the same opportunities than Hamilton he would be now the champion. I’m not happy for Alonso, neither for Hamilton (a great driver), but I’m happy, very happy, for McLaren and Ron Dennis.

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