Dennis happy for Alonso to return to McLaren

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: McLaren chairman Ron Dennis says he would be happy to have Fernando Alonso back at the team.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Alonso welcome at McLaren – Dennis (BBC)

“Whatever obstacles sit between a team wanting to win and winning, be it engineering, fiscal or human issues, you resolve them. You never say never.”

Adrian Sutil: Podiums the target with Sauber (F1)

“I’m convinced that we will have a successful time – and I’m looking very much forward to my first podium! Sauber have had some podiums in the past and that is exactly what I want.”

Mercedes ‘over-managed’ tyre problems (Autosport)

Toto Wolff: “Our car almost had a Lotus phenomenon afterwards – it was too gentle on the tyres, we could not switch them on, we could not warm them up in the appropriate way.”

A friend of Santa’s comes down from the North (Ferrari)

“Antonio Spagnolo… next season will [be Kimi Raikkonen’s] race engineer.”

Kvyat hoping new rules help (Sky)

“There are a lot of new regulations next year, but you have to learn as quickly as possible and I don’t think it is going to be a big problem.”


Comment of the day

Lucas Wilson says Marussia deserve greater appreciation.

They are true plucky survivors, they are the modern day Minardi or Super Aguri. I think they should deserve massive credit for what they have done. They are a rare type of team, truly old fashioned.

Don’t be fooled by the corporate names (Virgin, Marussia) they are running under, the team is largely the result of one man, John Booth and his company Manor Motorsport. Unlike Caterham (mainly created to advertise Mr Fernandes’s products) they are a proper independent race team like the former teams of Minardi and Jordan.

If they have beat Caterham on so much less money, they have my maximum respect.
Lucas Wilson (@Full-throttle-f1)

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost faced each other for the final time on a race track 20 years ago today.

The pair were among a host of Formula One drivers who competed in the first Elf Master Karting Indoor in Bercy, Paris. The event was organised by former F1 driver Philippe Streiff who suffered paralysis after a crash during pre-season testing in 1989.

The event ran across three days, though Senna only arrived late on Saturday, the second day. Driving a plain white kart due to a sponsorship conflict, Senna managed a few practice laps before crashing on one of the quicker parts of the circuit.

The pair were upstaged in qualifying by Johnny Herbert, whose lap of 29.25s was the quickest of the F1 drivers, 0.04s ahead of Prost with Senna a further 0.08s behind. However the outright quickest time of the event was a 28.86s lap set by French kart racer Sebastien Enjolras.

Prost and Senna only faced each other on track briefly in the final, Senna holding off a challenge from his great rival before Olivier Panis separated the pair by passing the four-times champion.

But Senna retired soon after and another technical problem for race leader Andrea de Cesaris handed Prost a popular victory in front of his home crowd.

Also racing that weekend were Olivier Grouillard, Eric Bernard, Jean-Marc Gounon, Bertrand Gachot, Yannick Dalmas, Pierluigi Martini, Eric van de Poele and Damon Hill. The latter, who had not been a kart racer in his youth, pulled out after Saturday with sore ribs.

Here’s footage from the race:

Image © McLaren

Author information

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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98 comments on “Dennis happy for Alonso to return to McLaren”

  1. I read The title with no context and almost jumped. Turns out it was just hypothetical ;)

    1. The title surely is misleading.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        18th December 2013, 0:20

        The title misses the WOULD BE quite intentionally. Well, it’s off-season so some startling headline helps to keep the interest flowing.

        1. An f1 fanatic will surely read every post regardless of the title. No? :)

      2. This is the title from 18.12.2014, Keith got the year wrong… :)

      3. That’s journalism for you and it’s is also so something this site has suffered from lately. Misleading headlines are great for attracting hits but also for discouraging fans. I think it’s a shame that we can’t stick to the facts rather than aim for a market. Business is business I guess.

        1. @funkyf1 I’ve already addressed this point (see below). Of course there was no intentional attempt to mislead and nor has there ever been. It’s sad how quick some people are to accuse me of having such cheap and cynical motives.

    2. Exactly the same with me too!
      I thought “gee, I haven’t been on F1 Fanatic for about 6 hours and look what I’ve missed!!!”

      I wouldn’t say misleading though, just a headline that sparks our imaginative minds which crave for some interesting off-season news..

    3. same here! my heart nearly jumped out my chest

      1. Hahaha yeah I’d just gotten up and almost choked on my coffee in shock ;)

    4. @meander – Reading the article, I get the impression that it was one of those interviews where the journalist asked very specific, closed questions – the kind where there are only a limited number of possible answers. The journalist has effectively already written the story, but just needs to conduct the interview to get the desired material that is then taken out of context and run for the sake of getting a big headline (and lots of readers). It’s a very under-handed and unethical method of journalism, since it uses deception and manipulation to get an answer that is a foregone conclusion, but not necessarily representative. It’s a by-product of news outlets competing for readers, and something the BBC should know better than to allow, since it’s a tabloid tactic.

    5. David not Coulthard (@)
      18th December 2013, 4:47

      @keithcollantine. ;)

    6. My first thought was “well, Alonso clearly did get annoyed by Ferrari” – I think I was as shocked as anyone!

      1. I almost had a heart attack when I read it… In honesty… geez I guess they can´t wait for SV to be with Ferrari…. they really want ALO out of Ferrari just so SV can join the Scuderia. This is Pathetic. ALO would never go back to McLaren, he has said it multiple times, he will retire a red driver!

    7. Obviously the headline meant ‘Dennis would be happy for Alonso to return to McLaren’, not ‘Dennis is happy Alonso is returning to McLaren’ – the latter can’t be true as Alonso is not returning to McLaren. I think most F1 Fanatic readers are sufficiently up-to-date with the news not to be in any doubt about that. And if this were a story saying Alonso is returning to McLaren the headline would state that. But to remove any potential for confusion I’ve tweaked the headline.

      1. tweaks happens often with Alonso & Ferrari on this site. And that’s why i keep coming back :)

        1. I didn’t react to this headline because if I’m not mistaken I thought Dennis, or someone from Mac anyway, said this earlier this season…that they would take FA back in a heartbeat. Perhaps someone at Mac was asked about this back when FA had expressed frustration at his car or the lack of improvement on it after which LdM seemed to get defensive.

      2. totally get you, man! but it is always definitely better to avoid controversies! we already have bernie!!!

      3. Dennis the menace (@)
        19th December 2013, 6:53

        Understood exactly what you meant Keith. As you said anyone up to date would have not misunderstood it.
        Considering my name is Dennis you could also add ‘Dennis also happy for his missus not to yell at him and for his boss to have a sudden heart attack’ All unlikely scenarios but still Dennis would be happy.

    8. Same here! Would have been welcome (depending on the replacement) but shocking nonetheless!

    9. It took me quite a scare.

  2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    18th December 2013, 0:17

    What a great team spirit in McLaren. From Alonso sending mails to confirm the Spy-Gate to Hamilton twitting telemetry. Checo didn’t do any of these things and got sacked.

    1. Checo is a nice guy.
      So was Heikki.

      Nice guys (usually) don’t win though do they?

      1. They liked aggressive Perez. At Bahrain, Whitmarsh said ‘be more feisty, Checo’. He elbowed Jenson.. Then at Monaco, he took out their old favourite, Raikkonen. After that he was gone… They feared another Alonso!

        Heikki… they thought a win would turn him ruthless.. but it had the opposite effect..

        1. So what does that mean; It it so that Mclaren just wants an averagly aggressive driver, or do they want a super aggressive one – much like ALonso, LH, Montoya?

      2. Vettel is considered to be a nice guy by many in the F1 paddock and the media, not sure if you’d class him as a winner though, yeah? :P

    2. Too nice. Away from the cameras, Button lets them have it! And lets not get started on his dad….!

    3. That’s also why they let Lewis go… he just wasn’t ruthless enough with his motivational problems…

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        18th December 2013, 2:19

        You do realise they didn’t just ‘let lewis go”.

        They knew that apart from Lewis, 3 of the ‘Big 4’ already had contracts for 2013, and so whoever they put in the car wasn’t going to be as good as Lewis. So they fought very hard to try and keep him.

        But a multitude of factors played a role in Lewis’s departure:
        – Money
        – Fewer PR and media commitments
        – Trophy policy
        – Mercedes management team
        – The potential to build a team into a championship winning team for multiple years.

        Mclaren tried to match Mercedes offer ($30m i think?) but didn’t have the budget for that, plus the car’s development.

        To say they let Lewis go is incorrect. Lewis left them.

        1. Pretty much. Unless you are as dry Schumi or Vettel who can cheer at the most boring and dull situations same thing every year is tiring.

          1. Sorry — are you saying that only “dry” people would want to win multiple consecutive world championships with the same team? I’m pretty sure Lewis Hamilton or any other driver wouldn’t have any problem with that “boring and dull” situation.

        2. @tophercheese21 – Chris i’m glad you gave the trophy policy the weight it deserves by citing it as a factor.


    4. @omarr-pepper – Martin Whitmarsh has said that the plan was to place Magnussen at a smaller team in 2014 to get so e experience going. They definitely looked at Force India and Marussia. However, they couldn’t find a team willing to take him. Since they felt that placing Magnussen in another series would be a waste of his talent, they took the plunge and signed him up. They almost certainly had a hand in placing Perez at Force India.

    5. Great team spirit in McLaren = ironic? =) Sometimes difficult to tell at forums..

    6. I’m sure the drivers’ actual performance was a factor. Why not put Cilff Richard in the car, he’d be very well behaved.

  3. Adrian Sutil is kidding himself if he thinks he’s going to get a podium next year – and not because he’s Adrian Sutil. We can reasonably expect Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari to be competitive. McLaren will probably be up there, too, and Sauber will likely face stiff competition from Force India and Lotus. It remains to be seen what Williams and Toro Rosso can do, while Caterham and Marussia are unlikely to threaten Sauber unless they really drop the ball. So in the best-case scenario, Sutil is probably going to be ninth on the road. How he expects to make up at least six positions – he can’t rely on mechanical failures, because any failure that strikes his opponents could also reasonably take him out of contention – is beyond me.

    1. Depends. Sauber managed a few podiums in 2012 owing to being “best of the rest” among the midfield, combined with some clever strategy. Sutil, of course, lacks the talent of Perez or even Kobayashi, but he could still luck into a podium if Sauber have a 2012-style season. If they’re as uncompetitive as they were last year, though, he’s got no chance.

      1. Sutil is no worse than Kobayashi.

    2. As @red-andy mentions, all it needs is for Sauber to have a car that is relatively reliable and able to run in the mid field and see teams in front drop the ball either no reliability or on speed or on fuel consumption and there is no reason why they couldn’t get a podium in a race with higher attrition @prisoner-monkeys

    3. Pure conjecture. The field might be mixed up next year or might be mostly the same. No one knows yet, even the teams, and especially you.

      1. I wouldn’t have expected AS to saying anything less than what he has at this point. Of course he is going to be positive, publicly, but I’m sure he knows deep down that it likely won’t be a cakewalk to the podium, all the while knowing that with such different regs for next year, then of all off-seasons, this is the one to throw out a bit more exaggerated hopes and aspirations because we just don’t know exactly how it will shake out. Of course the odds are against Sauber from a statistical and historic standpoint, and I certainly wouldn’t be banking on any kind of continuity from last year, with it’s lottery tires.

  4. Looks more and more like Mclaren are pulling out all the stops to lure Alonso in. Ron knows sure as hell that if he wants success at his floundering team, there isnt a better bet than Alonso…the question is, will he go? If Eddie Jordan’s predictions are anything to go by, Alonso will be at Mclaren Honda….we cant deny the fact that EJ is normally right.

    Great COTD btw. I agree 100%. I have a lot of respect for Marussia. The fact that they’ve managed to survive this long in itself is a great achievement. The comment about Caterham is spot on, I have said the same thing many a time. Just like QPR, Caterham is another one of Tony’s marketing stunts….and I have to say, both his endevours arent exactly beacons of achievement. I am fan of Marussia and I wish them the best. John Booth and Graeme Lowdown need to be given the praise they deserve for the job they’ve done with their budget.

    1. Do you thing ALO is stupid? He was told he was N1 and then McLaren backed Lulu.
      What makes you think McLaren newest star (Magnussen) will receibe Massa treatment at McLaren? (Thats what ALO wants).

      ALO has 2 last opportunities. Both in a red car.
      If he cannot make it…thats it.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        18th December 2013, 1:37

        @mumito why 2 last chances, because of his age?

        1. Because of the possibility of Vettel going there.

      2. Getting beaten by a rookie – volume 2

      3. @mumito
        There is no concrete evidence, rather no evidence of the Scuderia wanting Vettel. Maybe in a 2018 or later, who knows, but if I was Vettel, i would’ve taken a Williams to the top, like Schuey did with Ferrari. Anyways, what is there to say Vettel will beat Alonso in a car roundabout equal but minus the history with Ferrari.
        Anyways, SF has never even been close to RB in constructor’s.The sorrow and disappointment at SF since the last lap of Brazil ’08 (ironically, Vettel) is due to the man who, you say, is going to be in red in 2016.
        I don’t think. Nor do I hope

        1. If you read the post I’m not stating Vettel is going to dress in red.
          Im saying thar ALO will get the sack in 2 years.
          Im a Sauber fan not a Ferrari one. But if you ask me who is next Ferrari Driver…Bianchi.

        2. I may be wrong, but this is 1 of the main reasons Schuey got where he is today in F1 history and in my opinion, overall, he is the best driver in F1 history. And that is the fact that he had the “power” to gather the team he wanted, motivate people to give their best, improve etc. I don’t see Vettel to have these qualities at all. He seems to be just like most F1 drivers in history: just drive the car.

  5. Sutil targets podium finishes? Me as a Sauber fan just target to be there in F12014.
    Not losing to Caterham would be quite an achievement for my dear Sauber.

    By the way…Ron is messing with our heads. There is no way ALO will drive for Ron.

    1. Don’t be so sure.. Alonso did say that Senna in the McLaren-Honda was his idol. So did Lewis, but he’s now at Mercedes, who sponsored his junior career development for McLaren.

      1. And Alonso has matured significantly since 2007. I think a large part if that affair was the way he came from a team that was built around him so extensively that combined with his inexperience and naievete, he went into the team with unreasonable expectations. But he has recovered and developed significantly since then.

        1. Yeah, I think that Ron now admitting that he would be happy to have Alonso is just as much a big factor for FA as Monti welcoming Kimi back, because it implies that they were wrong before that.

          For Alonso to go to McLaren, he would want to know what Honda is doing, and that he would be in a position to effectively lead the team (as a driver), but also that the team would not make stupid decisions, and that their development in season will be making steps ahead. The first things he has had at Ferrari, but their car development has certainly left something to be desired.

        2. You’re right. Briatore built Renault around Alonso which worked. So Alonso had this assumption instilled in him when moving to McLaren, and perhaps naively thought this Hamilton guy wasn’t going to challenge him, and on the occasions he did, McLaren would reel in their highly-rated protégé so he wouldn’t be allowed to do so because of Alonso’s status.

    2. Hm, well, shouldn’t a sportsman set himself ambitious targets (see Perez wanting to have a shot at the WDC before 2013) @mumito?

      Now, if Sutil would say anything about winning a race, I would consider it stupid, but setting the aim of finally landing a podium? Why not, we have seen winners from unlikely teams in the past, and with all the uncertainty next year over what will work, over reliability and potentially issues with fuel-usage in early races, it might be the chance he needs.
      Off course its also possible that Sauber will be struggling for a single point. But nobody (apart from Marussia and Caterham who come from further back) would set that as a target for the season.

  6. Wow, it’s been 20 years since the kart racing started at Bercy?

    I remember watching that every Christmas on Eurosport. Looked like a really amazing track to drive.

  7. Six years in hindsight, I think that McLaren probably regret siding with Hamilton in 2007.

    1. Why? At least he got the title for them. No one would ever know how Alonso would have performed, he would have given his best – yes. Would his best been enough – no one knows.

      But I would definitely take Alonso over Button any day.

      Button’s Honda link was always a wishful thinking. Honda would ditch him for Alonso without blinking. (Mclaren would do the same I would imagine)

      1. Looking at the previous years results, if McLaren had probably sided with Alonso, they might have achieved more than they did with Lewis. Just my opinion!

        1. Well if you remind yourself, the way Alonso got his wins and the way Hamilton lost his. Unless Alonso can run faster than an F1 car, I can’t see him do better in an broken down car.

          1. The way Alonso got his wins? Remind me of another instance other than Hockenheim when Massa let him have the win.
            Alonso didn’t have a 2011 year like Hamilton. He has been at his best when he has had the opportunity.

            I will admit that in circumstances above his control, he wouldn’t have fared any better. But Alonso in a McLaren over the past 4 years would have definitely fared better than Hamilton in the same period.

          2. I doubt it. Alonso was indeed brilliant last year. But so was Hamilton. I’d say it was a toss up between who performed better. And as has been stated, considering how poor McLaren were as a team last year it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference who drove for them. One of Alonso’s strengths in 2012 was his team being incredibly solid.

            Although Alonso was obviously better in 2011, again his presence at McLaren would have had little impact- nobody was catching Vettel or Red Bull in either championship. And I think Hamilton was better in 2010.

      2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        18th December 2013, 2:44

        Alonso in McLaren in 2008, I guess, would have ended in Massa becoming champion. Alonso would have split McLaren wins between Lewis and him, and given the typical Ferrari rule of “on rooster” (at least they had Kimi helping back then) Massa would have had enough points over Lewis. True, maybe Alonso would have also snatches some Massa’s victories, but I think it would have been Felipe, finally, with the last laugh,
        It never happened and we will never know.

        1. If McLaren sided with Alonso he would have been champion in 08, 10 and 12

          1. In a movie RUSH: Alonso’s Unfulfilled Dreams, sure he did!

          2. David not Coulthard (@)
            18th December 2013, 4:53

   would be a perfect sound track for that.

          3. The crystal ball is in operation, I see.

          4. Because Alonso driving for McLaren in 2012 would magic away the teams unreliability and operational errors? And what would he bring to the table in 2010 that Hamilton didn’t? I think you’re living in a fantasy I’m afraid. Alonso is brilliant, but he makes mistakes too. He made several in 2010.

    2. @kingshark, perhaps they do, but I don’t think Alonso would have gotten more titles for them. 2008 was a bit of a shaky year for Lewis but he won the title nonetheless, in 2009 McLaren were not in contention for the title (and Hamilton drove well), in 2010 Hamilton’s back-to-back retirements in Monza and Singapore are often stated as the reason he lost the title, but he actually drove very well that year (wasn’t he voted best driver on F1Fanatic?), and Alonso made at least as many mistakes as Hamilton in 2010 (China, Britain, Spa spring to mind).

      2011 was a bad year for Hamilton, but no-one would have beaten Vettel anyway. In 2012 Fernando was the best driver, but Hamilton was also very strong, and the difference between them would not have been enough to overcome the 100-odd points Lewis lost due to team errors and reliability problems.

      1. Nice to see somebody who actually remembers what happened instead of being blinded by Alonso’s great 2012.

    3. I think so too. Ron could, and should, have handled things differently, more clearly telling Hamilton to back off in the inner team fights, giving Alonso less reason to feel that Hamilton was being favoured.

      I think that they would have had the title in both 2007 and 2008, and who knows, they could still have their Mercedes backing.

  8. “Whatever obstacles sit between a team wanting to win and winning, be it engineering, fiscal or human issues, you resolve them. You never say never.”

    If that is a proper definition of happiness, I definitively need to improve a lot my English skills.

    1. That’s just classic Ronspeak…

    2. How this equates to saying he would have Alonso back in the team beats my imagination even in Tooned Alonso was removed from the history of Mclaren! Not even Hamilton made it in!

  9. Loved the karting video – for the brief Senna/Prost battle but also the reminder of how quick Panis was.

    Just watching the karts on the track got me excited… I think I know what I’ll be up to this weekend.

    1. I thought the same thing! I live opposite a kart track and needed an excuse to go…now I’ve got one.

    2. Brilliant video, had never seen it before.

    3. The Bercy karting event was awesome with all the f1 drivers.
      I loved it.. Shame it isn’t organised anymore. Or at least not that I know (with f1 drivers)

      1. It was run on the same track layout as an electric karting event in 2011-

        reminder of how quick Panis was.

        Indeed, Panis was very quick & very highly rated back then.

        Its just a shame he had the accident at Montreal in 1997 as he was never the same afterwards, He was still quick but by all accounts never quite as quick as he had been.

    4. cracking footage…not much overtaking there but really close hard racing that’s great to watch. Perhaps we should all email the link to the FIA?

  10. Sutil: our target is to watch the podiums not on TV.

  11. The only way sutil will be on the podium is upside down and still in his car.

    I joke, I like sutil. I think he is a little underrated and hope sauber is strong enough to let him prove something next season.

  12. Just found this picture of what an f1 car might look like with the canopy they proposed and 18inch rims….. I like it!

    1. it does look Great, and if it improves performance, looks even better!

    2. That does actually look good.

  13. Super Aguri a plucky survivor? Didn’t it go bankrupt after just 2 seasons?

    1. It did well to last that long really.

  14. Surely if the car does better than this year, Alonso will consider, but if they build another lemon, they will not have enough money to turn Alonso around.
    On another note, I love the way they are telling their drivers, one of you is history next year, one way or another!

  15. Seems unlikely – there are surely some significant “human issues” (heh) to overcome.
    But how close did Prost come to returning to McLaren – at the beginning of 1994? You’d have thought “never again” then as well, but I believe he tested the car, and I remember an Autosport season preview had him listed as driving the number 1 McLaren, with Mika Hakkinen in number 7…

  16. Wolff , the business operations guy at Mercedes, making the technical assessments now? Oh Ross, you’re missed already (and you haven’t even left yet!)…

  17. Even I know that Wolff…

  18. Thanks for the shoutout @keithcollantine !

  19. RD, so I wish and many.

  20. Alonso would love to have a Dennis the Menace-less Mac-Honda in 2015. Hopefully with Brawn, car development and a Felipe Massa.

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