Fernando Alonso reveals the Ron Dennis words which made McLaren exit inevitable

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso with his head down. Brazil 2007.

McLaren driver Fernando Alonso with his head down in the garage. Brazil November 2007.

Cutting ties with McLaren after a controversial 2007 season, Fernando Alonso has revealed it was Ron Dennis’ comment about “our race” being against “Fernando” that made him realise he couldn’t continue with the team.

Alonso joined McLaren from Renault at the start of the 2007 season, the two-time reigning World Champion teaming up with rookie driver Lewis Hamilton.

But it was apparent from the get-go that Hamilton was no ordinary rookie as the Briton took the fight to his team-mate, both out on track and in the standings.

That led to several tense moments, most notably during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix where Alonso was deemed to have purposely held up Hamilton in the pits to prevent the Briton from beating him to pole position.

An angry Dennis was caught on camera throwing his headphones while later the stewards investigated Alonso’s antics with the Spaniard hit with a five-second penalty.

Dennis and Alonso’s fight continued into the morning of the grand prix where the BBC reports Alonso told his team boss that he had access to emails concerning the ‘Spygate’ scandal and that he was prepared to give them to the FIA.

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And so Spygate began, Alonso’s threat sparking the chain of events that led to McLaren being expelled from the 2007 Constructors’ Championship standings and fined a record $100m for being in procession of IP belonging to Ferrari.

And yet that wasn’t the final nail for the Alonso-McLaren partnership, the Spaniard saying that came at the Chinese Grand Prix where the team-mates lined up on the grid with Hamilton 12 points ahead. That Sunday, Dennis reportedly said that McLaren weren’t fighting Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, they were up against Alonso.

“The situation that season was not well-managed by our bosses,” Alonso recalled to the Daily Mail.

“We were young. We were immature. We were many of the things we are not now, and we needed help from the management that we didn’t get.

“I couldn’t continue with McLaren. It was a team with eyes totally one side of the garage.

“As Ron said after the penultimate race in China, ‘our race isn’t with Massa, it is with Fernando’. When your team says that, you cannot continue. But you learn in a career.”

At the time McLaren put out a statement that read: “Following a meeting between Fernando Alonso and McLaren, it was agreed that it would be in the best interests of both parties to bring the relationship to an end.”

Dennis added: “He is a great driver but for some reason the combination of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and Fernando has not really worked out. We reached a stage where none of us could find a way to move forward.”

As for Alonso, he said it’s “not a secret that I never really felt at home” within the Woking team.

The double World Champion would go onto rejoin McLaren in 2015, spending four largely unsuccessful seasons with the team before taking a break from Formula 1. Back on the grid in 2021, he now races for Aston Martin and sits third in the Drivers’ Championship.