Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Suzuka, 2015

Team radio “should be private” says Alonso after ‘GP2’ remarks

2015 Japanese Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso has complained about the broadcasting of team radio messages after he was heard describing his Honda power unit as a “GP2 engine” during the Japanese Grand Prix.

“They passed me on the straight like a GP2” said Alonso early in the race after being passed by Carlos Sainz Jnr and Marcus Ericsson. “This is embarrassing, very embarrassing,” he added. Later in the race he repeated his criticism, saying: “GP2 engine, GP2.”

Alonso told the media after the race he’d been frustrated with his car’s performance and later clarified his remarks in a series of Twitter posts.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Suzuka, 2015
Alonso also dismissed claims he could leave McLaren
“Some things from today that seem not clear to everybody,” said Alonso. “Today was our third best result of the season – we keep working hard.”

“When we are fighting in group is difficult, we all want to win, and sometimes transmit the team radios, but it should be private chats.”

Alonso also dismissed speculation his unhappiness with the Honda power unit could lead him to leave McLaren.

“No one should have any doubt that I have three years with McLaren and my career in F1 will end with this team, hopefully winning everything,” he added. “Very simple. So now a few days off and Russia will be another race to keep closing the gap to the top!”

All the teams’ radio messages are available for FOM to broadcast if they choose, but only a small number are. While at Ferrari Alonso regularly conducted his team radio discussions in Italian and consequently few were broadcast. However a frustrated message from Alonso to his team at Monza in 2013 was broadcast.

Earlier that year Jenson Button, now Alonso’s team mate at McLaren, also complained about team radio messages being made public.

2015 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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78 comments on “Team radio “should be private” says Alonso after ‘GP2’ remarks”

  1. Got to give it up to Alonso. He’s such a great politician. The Spanish Parliament awaits him once he’s done with F1.

    1. Why not cabinet (i.e. as its head)?

    2. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      27th September 2015, 18:59

      I must say impressive Senior Alonso. Say something which you know the world will (probably) hear, and then plead innocence base on the the fact that we should not have heard it.
      He’s is even more cunning than I gave him credit for.

    3. I don’t read the same way. He said:

      “When we are fighting in group is difficult, we all want to win, and sometimes transmit the team radios, but it should be private chats.”
      For me, Alonso was saying what he said on the radio should be said in private. IMHO he was not saying “team radio should be private”.

  2. It *looked* like a totally calculated attempt to embarrass Honda at their home GP, and indeed as remarked the sort of thing you might want to say if you actually wanted to get fired.

    Of course, I guess with what Fernando is saying is I won’t credit him with the intelligence to be that devious, instead I’ll just treat it like him being a doofus and forgetting the world is watching and listening to this sort of stuff.

  3. I wish they were private but not because of this reason.
    My reasons are
    I am sick and tired of hearing save tyres, go to this pace, do this, do that, it’s annoying to hear if we don’t hear it, it is must less clear to see when they are saving tyres/fuel
    another reason is this
    I was at Silverstone and I didn’t pick up anything so I could hear team radio and it was heaven, why because I had no idea Bottas was told to stay behind Massa, it looked like he was really fighting, then when I watched it back and heard the radio I just thought, oh well that is dull.

    1. @bezza695 I understand your point of view but I disagree with it entirely. I want to understand what’s going on in a race, not merely see it, and team radio is a valuable tool for that – it’s probably the best kind of insight we get.

      If drivers saving tyres and fuel and so on is negative for the racing, then change the rules or the tyres. But to identify team radio as the problem is plainly a case of shooting the messenger because you don’t like the message.

    2. Ignorance is bliss

      1. Ignorance in F1 would be boring.

    3. I guess you love Pro Wrestling, then…

  4. At this point, it’d almost flatter Alonso, Button, Boullier or Dennis to not diminish their own criticism all of the time. All of this ‘we are working hard’ stuff works for a team like Ferrari or Williams, as they have turned their fortunes around in recent seasons, but McLaren keeps going down and the Honda power unit is limiting them massively. McLaren might be famous for their holier than thou PR speak, but I cannot imagine simply being critical all of the time is going to do more damage to the McLaren and Honda brands than this endless ‘this is terrible’ to ‘we are still hopeful’ 5 minutes after a session.

    People have been critical of Hamilton and Rosberg for their repeated ‘thanks to the team’-speak, some have branded Vettel’s thanks in Italian as ‘forced’, but we’re all used to McLaren and Alonso speaking a ‘marketing’ version of the English language that messages like these seem normal.

    1. I get people criticizing the PR talk, but criticizing a driver for thanking his team in their native language? That sounds weird.

  5. “GP2 engine, GP2.”
    I thought you meant S660 engine, Fernando.

  6. The decision on what messages to broadcast is down to FOM. They’re the ones that choose to play a message out of context. They’re the ones who insist on broadcasting all the ‘fuel/tyre-save’ messages. And yet they just don’t get that the choices they make can damage the very sport it’s their job to promote.

    1. @raceprouk I agree with what you are saying on the whole, but I don’t think this is out of context. Alonso was frustrated with the power unit and they played his radio message. I think that fits with the context quite well.

      But I agree that there are things they shouldn’t be playing a lot of.

  7. Its absolutely ridiculous for him to claim this. He knows that they are going to broadcast these messages, and this was honestly their best race pace wise all year! He was able to race pretty well, and only lost positions because of his own mistakes, not the engine power issues. Its not a “GP2” engine issue, its a fact that with DRS, and him messing up the last corner, he’s going to be slower no matter what.

    He was trying to embarass Honda, got caught out looking like a whiner, and is now trying to cover up his comments. I hope this makes them drop him for next year, as he’s getting paid $40 mil a year and all he does is complain.

    1. all he does is complain

      Funny; after most races, he’s been ‘We’re not good right now, but we’ll get better’ more often than not.

    2. He was able to race pretty well, and only lost positions because of his own mistakes

      Seriously? Please telling me you aren’t being genuine here. A small mistake (which I am actually unaware of) in the last corner does not mean that 2 cars come streaming straight past him completely defenseless.

      He was trying to embarass Honda

      There’s no way on earth Alonso was trying to embarrass them, he was clearly frustrated by the inability to get anywhere!

      1. He finished 11th. In a race 19 drivers finished.

        1. Jean-Christophe
          28th September 2015, 1:42

          19 drivers finished, 3 of whom were out due to accidents (kvyat, Ricciardo, Massa…

    3. You have to be kidding. Own mistakes?
      Alonso was able to hold position in front of Kvyat and Verstappen for that long because he didn’t made a single mistake on the overtaking points.

      He nailed every single time the approach to that last chicane to have a good exit and enough speed to make things difficult for an overtake. And even that wasn’t enough.

      Mclaren, once again, was pathetic to see. He may be harsh, but he definitely is not wrong. Ron Dennis probably agrees with him, but have to be diplomatic. It’s his team, afterall.

      1. Ron Dennis agrees that the engine isn’t good enough at the moment but he certainly doesn’t agree on how that was expressed by Alonso.
        And i bet he wasn’t very happy with the angry look the Honda boss would have given him when Alonso was saying that.

    4. Funny. I was actually thinking to choose him for his excellent weekend as DOTW.

    5. ” A fact that with DRS and him messing up the last corner, he’s going to be slower no matter what.” “All he does is complain”? Please don’t make ridiculous comments yourself without facts.
      No one knows if he was trying to “embarass” (sic) Honda, but why the hell not? Yes, in the heat of the moment, he has criticized the engine manufacturer, who obstinately refuses to collaborate and accept assistance from McLaren and/or hire other experts to fix its under-powered engines, but he has very good reasons for doing so, doesn’t he? I for one, do not blame him or Jensen making sarcastic remarks over the radio over the weekend.
      Haven’t you ever complained about your employer for something? Frustrations set in, and it is human nature to complain, yes, even publicly, since it has gone for 14 races now, not just one. Accusing someone as such is ridiculously absurd.
      I guess other drivers don’t complaint or sulk when things go wrong… like Vet, Ros, Mas, Web, and especially Ham.

      1. Let’s be honest, yelling over the radio “GP2 engine, GP2” isn’t the most constructive way to tell your complains and especially when you are in the country of your engine manufacturer with their boss watching from the pitlane.

  8. If drivers are being payed millions, we should have access to everything bar their bathroom habits on a Grand Prix weekend! It is their professional responsibility to ensure all that they do and say whether in or out of the cockpit is well considered.

    1. “We spoke as I was going for a pee, and I never understand him anyway. I think I just said ‘yes’, being friendly. I didn’t really have a conversation as such. It’s nice that he’s gone to the media and said that, though.”

  9. I don’t think he is saying all the team radios should be private, he is just saying that comment was private.

    1. @zoomracing

      he is just saying that comment was private

      Then he is wrong because, as everyone knows, the radios are not a private medium.

      1. No, I think you’ve totally misread his tweet (albeit one he wrote in broken English).

        When we are fighting in group is difficult, we all want to win, and sometimes transmit the team radios, but it should be private chats.

        I think he meant “we” the drivers “transmit the team radios”, but should wait for the opportunity to air it privately. Unless I have missed some other source, I think it’s an outrageous extrapolation to say he was definitely placing the responsibility for making the chats private on the FIA, rather than himself and his driver colleagues.

  10. He’s ready to explode. No doubt, Flavio already in talks with Renault/lotus or even trying to squeeze his way into Mercedes or Red Bull.

  11. Ferrari PUs of 2014 (on Manor) are quite similar actually

  12. Alonso was frustrated at the way his race was going. He wasn’t in church, he didn’t even use a vulgar word like Vettel sometimes does.
    To me he was giving feedback to the team.

    1. Vettel’s not swearing at his team. So, not really comparable just because it’s something Vettel does on the radio.

      If you think he was giving feedback, good for you. Rest of the world was mostly shaking their heads or laughing their heads off.

      1. @ Harry, I for one was not shaking my head nor laughed my head off. I completely sympathized how he felt and said. Pure frustration, not being able to defend or race.

    2. “To me he was giving feedback to the team”

      Well thankfully now that they got the feedback they can try and find who made the mistake and delivered the GP2 engines to the team and look for where is the cargo with the F1 engines lost.
      This means that Honda doesn’t have much problems with the engine at all. They just simply put the wrong ones. As soon as they find those F1 engines they can jump back at the frond

  13. I think this is a bad statement from one of the best F1 drivers ever. I would have expected something like “I love my team and I know we are going to achieve a lot together but this has been a tough year and sometimes I get frustrated because I am human like everyone else.” Instead of that, Alonso is basically saying to F1 fans: “You are not meant to see my true colours and you should think that I am an angel.”

    Does Alonso really believe that what F1 needs is more press releases and less insight into the real F1? I believe that our sport would be much poorer without true emotions and a few controversies. Things like team radio, independent F1 journalism and even rumours are what keeps fans attracted even when the racing is relatively boring (like this year) and F1 drivers should appreciate that.

    1. @girts – Totally agree. That would have been more authentic and would have been quite understandable everything considered.

      The worst part to me is if he chose this race specifically to let loose with such a comment about the engine in Japan as a way to “motivate” Honda into better performance, it truly shows very poor form. If calculated, it was a poor calculation along with his “explanation”.

  14. The State of McLaren Honda was pretty sad this weekend. The rationale for Alonso was that neither Ferrari nor Mclaren were going to win the WDC in 2015 so rather move to McLaren to start the new project as a fresh start and win the WDC in 2016. While Honda will eventually get there, the question is When ? Alonso constantly quoted that Honda is the only engine that can challenge Mercedes to win the WDC. Going by their performance this year I don’t think it is going to happen in 2016. Miracles do happen in F1 and I don’t rule them out but from where we are standing today, I do not see that happening next year.

    I think he is slowly starting to realize that he made a mistake and using the Radio to convey the message to the McHonda Leadership.

    Well as far as keeping Radio messages private, he could have made these messages after the race in the debrief session but chose not to. It was more or less a deliberate message sending message to Honda, McLaren and the world that he is frustrated. After all he is human too as much as he claims to be a samurai. Once Ron freaked out in public Alonso was doing some damage control although he had anticipated that.

    This reminds me of some of his rants from the Ferrari Cockpit last year. in simple terms Alonso is giving a message to Honda and McLaren management that he is not happy with the scenario.

    Now watching the race yesterday one thing dawned on me that Kimi, Alonso and Button seemed to be the drivers of the ByGone era. They suddenly seemed to be like the Schumi who came out of retirement to enter a field of new kids. Today’s F1 is about Hamilton and Vettel and the new kids like Max, Kvyat, Bottas, Ricciardo, Sainz, Ericcsion et all…. Even if Honda re-emerges after a couple of years will Alonso be in a state to challenge the new kids on the block? I hope so but I am not sure.

    1. WOW. “Like the Schumi who came out of retirement…” Are you serious? I agree that ALO, BUT, and RAI may not be in their prime, but comparing them to a man who was 41 at the time of his comeback. Ageism..?Perhaps, RAI is a bit rusty, but I think they all are physically and mentally up to the challenge for another few years. After that, we will reminisce about all of them.

  15. He quotes Art of War. Enough said.

    1. Another reason to be careful with him…

  16. I think a driver should be able to say whatever he wants especially when he’s in the car and they are so slow. In many ways, the statement holds a lot of truth and it should get Honda and McLaren to up their game.

    They are extremely limited by the regulations but they need to start thinking out of the box – they have to find ways to improve the performance dramatically while adhering to the regulations -that means their engineers need to work side-by-side with lawyers to determine if an upgrade is legal – if the rules are not clear then the upgrade is considered legal until deemed illegal.

    It’s practically impossible to win fair and square in F1 even if you’re leading – to come from the back and win, you need magic and I think they need to start thinking about “magical upgrades”. Where is Flavio when you need him? Wait, he’s at Ferrari, right cause they performed magic at Singapore. Just kidding:-)

  17. Alonso want’s to be honest with his team regarding the capabilities of the car and that is OK by me. But when the whole world heard about it he sounds like he doesn’t want to be the bad guy. Alonso is not the one who can be blamed about the poor performance for sure and he should not hold his frustrations about it. I can understand that he want’s to hold the team together because publicly speaking about the problems doesn’t bode very well in such huge corporations. But you know what? The whole world already knows about your problems so fill free to talk about it Fernando. It’s like when you fart in a room full of people. It’s a healthy habit but not a polite thing to do in front of the people and you are amberesed, but you just can’t take it back, do you? :D

  18. I’m more and more convinced Alonso is a sociopath. Everything he does is fairly well calculated and done to make himself look as good as possible.

    1. Complain about the engine, comparing it to a lesser formula engine.

    2. Apologize for above remarks and claim that you were frustrated in the heat of battle.

    3. Point out that this race result was one of the best all year and that you did better than your teamate.

    4. Bask in the glow of everyone’s remarks about how you can get the most out of every car, even the crappy ones.

    1. A highly functioning sociopath.

    2. @jason And I’m getting more and more convinced that you are a bit loco in the coco

  19. @jmwalley You’re right about that but what is wrong with that? I’ll take that over “false modesty” any day. They are superstars and they get frustrated when 1 driver passes them let alone several.

    1. @freelittlebirds, there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with him being a sociopath. But that people buy into his posturing and shenanigans wears on me.

      Will Buxton’s blog today says it better than I ever could. It’s a bit long, but well worth reading. Alonso calls himself a samurai, but has none of the respect a true samurai would have: https://willthef1journo.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/the-way-of-the-warrior/

      A worthwhile sociopath would respect those around them.

  20. Sounds silly but I’ve always thought the best way for teams not to give away crucial strategy related info on the radio would be to drop constant ‘f-bombs’ during the message. FIA won’t bother to censor a word used multiple times in a sentence and then it wouldn’t be broadcast for other teams to hear your strategy.

  21. i think they should be private so the competitors wouldnt know your strategy. i hate when other teams find out a different team driver is having difficulty or their strategy via team radio. Cant blame teams for having codes like multi 1-2 etc…

  22. I dont think radio messages should stop. I think that when they are chosen they should broadcast the whole convo in context. I hate how they can shorten it as it creates doubt about its context. We never really know for sure if the context is there or not.

    I also dont think Alonso is being treated fairly here. Mclaren have been embarrassing this whole year. The Honda is a GP2 engine and both drivers have been critical all year. So what if he repeated the same sentiment at this specific track? Are we suddenly protectors of Honda because we’re in Japan? Why is everyone suddenly so sensitive to a Mclaren drivers remarks about the terrible Honda power unit?

    I think as F1 viewers we need to stay at least a little consistent with our hating.

  23. How about some perspective? Alonso was in a race car, adrenalin suffusing his entire body and spoke his feelings. This summer has seen one long litany of verbal abuse heaped on Renault by Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner who cannot claim that what he has said, repeatedly, was in the heat of the moment. Gag Horner but not in-car radio!

  24. I can see the point of those saying that Alonso shouldn’t have complained on the radio. But as a racer, I find hard not to sympathise with him. It is painful to watch one of the very best of drivers of this generation knocking about at the back of the grid. It is just plain wrong in my view and I totally understand his frustration.
    Imagine if Alonso was in that second Merc. We would probably be witnessing an epic battle for the championship. What a treat for the fans that would have been. And a boost for F1 in general.
    Alas that is a romantic utopia, it would never happen.

  25. “GP2 ENGINE.. GP2…. AAAAARRRGHHHHHH”
    That’s epic ! The History continue…
    #MAKEHISTORY AAARRRRGHHHH!

  26. I heard Johnny Herbert complaining about Alonso, as did some other commentators etc. I find it refreshing when a driver tells the truth and does not hide behind the team/political position. Yes they are there to do a job, promote products etc etc, but the facts are visible. Honda’s motor is a shocker, Alonso is only expressing what everyone is thinking/talking about.

    Honda and McLaren wont sack him because the cannot afford to. Alonso is one of the biggest names in the sport and in the top three drivers on the grid. Sponsorship on the McLaren will be because of Alonso and Button. A new sponsor is coming on board next month for McLaren and I bet the only way the got them was because of Alonso and Button name. Not because of McLaren.

    1. I thought Johnny Herbert was being too critical about Alonso for venting out frustration. Also, Martin Brundle making absurd comments that it’s damaging the relationship between Honda and McLaren. I am sorry, but the relationship, according to the same geniuses at Sky, is already not well. He also ridiculously states that the frustration from Alonso also stems from not being at Ferrari, “What is really hurting, of course, is Ferrari doing so well… putting salt on open wounds… seeing Vettel up on the podium and winning races every weekend.”
      Excuse me?
      First, Alonso came pretty close to winning championships with Ferrari in 2010 and 2012, winning many races, but again, not good enough to dominate like Red Bull and now Mercedes. Alonso had had enough of coming so close, yet, not winning. Ferrari was never dominant even in those years and the main reason for leaving the Italian team is that they were not and will not likely to improve in near future. Yes, Ferrari has improved, but Brundle and Co. have a very short-term memory, it seems, but they are not good enough to win the championship this year or the next. Alonso does not want to win a few races and get up on the podium at this juncture in his career, he wants win the championship.
      Second, has Mr. Brundle partook on some Sake shots while coming down from the commentary box? “Vettel winning races every weekend”? Do I really need to comment on this incorrect statement? Seriously?

      I hope the “GP2” comment will have a big impact and major improvements come as a result of it.

  27. Really? No-one has ever voiced their frustrations at work?

    I’m glad he said it. Hopefully Honda will get their act together. Granted, Mclaren asked a lot of them by limiting the size, but Honda now know where the problem lies, especially since us fans know it, so finding a solution to the power harnessing and deployment is all that stands in the way. The ICE is now fine.

    Anyway, a little zest never ruined a meal.

  28. Completely disagree with Fernando. The highlights of the race came from the radio. As much as he doesn’t like it, the fans should be the 1st priority.

  29. 50/50 – It’s not nice to rant that way but you can’t blame him too. I’ll take it as entertainment.
    McLaren/Honda is a the biggest joke now from their strong and unforgettable history.

  30. It is refreshing to hear the truth from a frustrated racing driver than bunch of corporate PR speak.

  31. keith i don’t think alonso here is saying radio messages should be private, rather he is saying some things he said should have been kept to private ‘chats’ after the race in person…

  32. Why dont you buy a private track and go around it sending private messages Alonso? Everyone would be happy.

  33. I think Alonso knew perfectly fine what he was saying and when he was saying it. Almost a year has passed and every other GP we got the F1 guy from Honda (Arai) promising podiums, to match the pace of Ferrari and whatnot. First for the european GPs, then after summer break, then a bit later…

    Still, today we got again Arai telling that McLaren is hiding their chassis problems. Maybe, but if that is so, at least those problems are not so big, since they can be hidden. The Honda engine problems are so blatantly clear that no hiding is possible. And, it seems that the engine issues cannot be addressed this season because deep redesign is needed, which may be the first ever declaration of that guy that I believe.

    This was a calculated action to put Honda F1 management on the spot. A public message to the CEO of Honda: ‘this engine is total crap and I am tired of selling unicorns to the press, do something and do it fast, or next year is going to be the same’.

    After race, sure, everybody scrambling back to the polite PR mode. Notice however how Dennis moves by the hour from protect-Honda-PR to protect-Alonso/McLaren-PR. If next season the situation is not hugely improved I don’t see the McLaren-Honda partnership surviving much longer. And it really shouldn’t, that engine is totally unworthy of F1.

  34. All this development limitations…. Doh.

    Team like McHonda can only wait for 2016, and then race current Ideas… Then in 2017 race fixed version, and maybe 2018 get in form…

    And cost cutting does not work… Teams spend all money they have anyway, yet unable to fix problems and Issues that really hamper them.

    I say unfreeze development if your team is bellow top 5 in constructors champ.

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