Mark Slade places blame on McLaren, not Fernando Alonso for failed partnership

Henry Valantine
Fernando Alonso with his head down. Brazil 2007.

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

Former McLaren race engineer Mark Slade believes the problems with their failed season with Fernando Alonso in 2007 laid on the team’s side, rather than the Spaniard’s.

Slade was Alonso’s race engineer when the double World Champion made the move from Renault after taking his second title, before an infamous season followed with an upstart rookie named Lewis Hamilton on the other side of the garage.

Alonso and Hamilton’s relationship soured as the season progressed, as the reigning champion was not given the preferential treatment he felt he merited at the team, with Hamilton competing for podiums and victories as soon as he took to the track for the first time in Melbourne.

But when he looks back on working with the two-time champion as race engineer that year, Slade has positive memories to take.

“Working with Fernando was great,” Slade told MotorLAT about his time with Alonso.

“He is the terminator of Formula 1, isn’t he? He just never gives up, and he’s just super-fast.

“You just knew that you were working with someone who was trying desperately to win every race he entered, so that was fantastic.”

The outward tension between Alonso, Hamilton and McLaren became worse as both drivers mounted their own title challenges, eventually being beaten to glory by Kimi Raikkonen by a single point at the end of the year – Alonso and Hamilton finishing tied on points behind.

The Alonso-McLaren relationship deteriorated to a degree whereby his multi-year deal was ended after a single season, departing to head back to Renault in time for 2008, with few kind words to say between driver and team after their first stint together ended.

But had things worked out as planned when the team signed Alonso the first time around, Slade thinks he would have more than two titles to his name.

“The problems were more within the team, to be honest,” Slade explained of how things were from his perspective.

“The team atmosphere was pretty poor. I think a few things happened that exaggerated the problems that were there.

“I would say it could have been better handled from a management perspective and a team objective.

“Things didn’t work the way they should have done. Really we just threw away the championship in 2007.

“I think if Fernando had been backed properly, we probably would have won the ’07 and ’08 championships. Who knows what would have happened after that but there you go. It’s the way it was.

“I never had a problem with Fernando himself. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.”

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