Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?
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Lewis Hamilton riled Fernando Alonso in Friday’s free practice ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix as the Briton blocked off his old rival. The blockbuster duo came to blows on a string of occasions when they were team-mates at McLaren in 2007.
Hamilton has won a joint-record seven F1 world titles throughout his illustrious career but has struggled for form this season amid car issues for his current team Mercedes and is currently sixth in the F1 Drivers’ Championship standings. But with four Grands Prix of the season remaining, he arrived at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin in search of his seventh podium finish of the year.
As the drivers took to the track for free practice, Hamilton found himself ahead of Alonso, who now drives for Alpine. But he chagrined the Spaniard by holding him up for a bizarre reason. “Hamilton has no mirrors today,” Alonso told team bosses over his radio. “Unbelievable.”
“Let’s just have a quick look at what’s been going on with Alonso here,” said the F1TV commentator as he watched a replay of the incident. “Was there any kind of drama or was he being held up? Yeah he’s complaining that Hamilton wasn’t getting out of his way.”
Alonso was the reigning two-time champion when he joined McLaren alongside Hamilton in 2007. But there was growing acrimony between the pair when the rookie Briton exceeded expectations and challenged for the world championship. The duo ultimately missed out on the title as they both finished one point behind eventual champion Kimi Raikkonen.
But Alonso has since played down a spat between the pair. “Nothing happened with Hamilton,” Alonso said last year as he spoke about their time together at McLaren. “It was more with the team, with whom we had our differences. He believed some things that the team gave him and didn’t give him. I believed some things that the team gave me and didn’t give me.
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“And we didn’t understand each other, but there was always respect between us – even on the track. We would go out on Sundays to race thinking what we thought on the inside about the team. But we always respected each other on the track. And we always tried to fight hard, but with respect.”
Hamilton finally got his hands on his maiden F1 title with McLaren in 2008. And he has since won six more world championships since move to Mercedes in 2013. Alonso, meanwhile, who won back-to-back titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, never won another title after leaving McLaren at the end of the 2007 season but subsequently finished second in the F1 Drivers’ Championship standings three times during a five-year spell with Ferrari.
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