Alonso, who has been so lauded as the old head on young shoulders in Formula 1 is falling apart psychologically. It’s been getting worse and worse, and frankly the only thing that could have rescued his situation was the big win last weekend which never came.
For about 10 races Renault would arrive each weekend saying things like “yeah we don’t think we’re going to be doing very much this weekend, Ferrari have the clear advantage”. And then they would wipe the floor with Ferrari which was a great psychological trick as it meant that they were implying Ferrari had thrown away a good chance. Unfortunately Ferrari started believing the hype and started winning races. And ever since then Renault have gone into reverse saying that they have the best package and that they know they are super strong going into the weekend. But then they find that Ferrari have won the race and have managed to be hoist by the their own petard. Now it looks like Renault are throwing away their chances and the only people causing this sensation is Renault themselves.
The fact that they have been lying so much for so long makes such claims as Pat Symonds current one that he knows the Renault will be fast in Japan because it’s similar to Silverstone difficult to work out. Not only does it sound like the same old guff that the Renault is faster but also Silverstone and Suzuka are not normally compared.
However this was the story so far. The Renault team who had been doing so well in the black art of PR and manipulation have been becoming slowly unstuck as nobody knows if they should believe what they say. And slowly but surely people are having more confidence in what Ferrari are saying which means they seem to have more confidence in Ferrari.
But what is this? When asked in the press in Spain how the team were after China Alonso said that while some of the team were disappointed most of the team were happy because they had regained the lead in the constructors championship. And that this would particularly please a certain faction who don’t want him to win because if Michael wins nobody gets the number 1 next year least of all arch rival McLaren. Er Whoops.
He even then went on to say that he didn’t really think that the team were fully behind him and that Michael had much better support.
Renault have now swung into overdrive trying to say that they are working as a single team, and hadn’t he seen that Fisi was totally driving a team game in China when he ended up in third (rather neatly implying that they swapped Alonso and Fisi) and that with the points balance so tight you’d have to win both.
But the problem with the press release is that it isn’t from Alonso saying that he was misquoted and misunderstood, that say he had simply said that the team weren’t as disappointed as they could have been because they had regained the championship and the reporter must have dreamed the rest. The press release is to Alonso not from him. They are trying to convince him that they are behind him.
But I’ll tell you what expect any of the engineers who were wavering about him to be in full revolt now. Those guys work 20 hours a day on a race weekend just to make their drivers cars go a bit faster and people under that much pressure respond well to grandiose gestures of love like “I know that we can do it if we just pull together and work that little bit harder for this final push and the reason I know we can do it is because I love my team and I know we are the best” rather than “work harder you bastards I know you don’t love me”. Which boss would you work an extra hour for?
So expect more little things to go wrong in the next two races. More wheel nuts not quite working. More slight variations in water pressure more gear box trouble. The little things that go wrong when people are two tired and the adrenalin just isn’t coming. Alonso just pushed the self destruct button and it’s not going to be pretty.
PS. Also expect Ferrari to mention the press release to the FIA and suggest that team points be taken away from Renault for having team orders.