There was growing acrimony between the pair as the season wore on. The British rookie exceeded expectations and challenged for the World Championship in his first year in Formula 1, against the reigning two-time champion at that time.
Alonso and Hamilton’s relationship has since warmed, and the Spaniard was quick to say that the past is behind them.
“Absolutely,” Alonso said in a Q&A with Agencia EFE, quoted by Marca. “Besides, nothing happened with Hamilton. 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. 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.”
But one of the standout moments of that season, for the wrong reasons, was at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The qualifying session saw Hamilton break an agreement between both drivers by jumping ahead of the Spaniard on track in the session to gain an advantage – with the Briton leading that season’s World Championship by two points at that time.
Alonso then seemingly retaliated by holding himself in his pit box while refuelling for his final qualifying run, which then caused Hamilton to be unable to cross the line in time for another flying lap.
This had been seen as a seminal moment in the breakdown of the relationship between the two drivers, but Alonso wanted to clarify things. So, what exactly happened in qualifying that day?
“Nothing,” Alonso stated.
“Nothing. I changed the tyres and I almost didn’t have time. I crossed the finish line with one second [left in the session].
THAT qualifying incident at McLaren.
Lewis Hamilton had disobeyed team orders, jumping Fernando Alonso & left the pits first at the start of Q3, so the Spaniard retaliated by holding up the Briton near the end.
— F1 in the 2000s (@CrystalRacing) August 4, 2020
Alonso’s antics on the day eventually earned himself a five-place grid penalty, without a full explanation as to why that happened. On that, however, the two-time World Champion remained tight-lipped.
“Oh, yes, well. There was a penalty. Yes, yes, it was the penalty I got in Hungary that year,” he said, shutting down that line of questioning.
Hamilton went on to win the race, while Alonso lost more ground finishing P4 on the day. With the Spaniard and Hamilton both missing out on the title by one point behind Kimi Raikkonen, it was put to him that some felt the Championship had been effectively “stolen” from him in Hungary – but Alonso was more pragmatic about that subject.
“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said when asked if the title was taken from him in Hungary. “A World Championship always has moments of comings and goings. The 2007 World Championship was lost by one point; and that point was in many places.
“But you don’t think about it anymore. If you think about the past, you can also think that you were lucky once in the World Championships you won.”