Formula 1 | Alonso rallied McLaren mechanics to his cause with cash envelopes

Alonso rallied the mechanics of (...)

Former McLaren F1 mechanic Marc Priestley claimed that Fernando Alonso had already distributed envelopes full of cash so that the garage « love him more » than Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton and Alonso were only teammates for a year, but that didn’t stop them from quickly mounting an extreme rivalry with each other.

With Hamilton’s arrival as a rookie in the sport and the established role of newly crowned two-time world champion Alonso, the future seven-time world champion was expected to play second fiddle to Alonso, but that soon turned out not to be the case.

The young Briton’s first season in the sport came to a head when Alonso deliberately stopped in the pits to slow his team-mate’s efforts during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. It has now been revealed that the questionable tactics weren’t just limited to the track.

Speaking on the PitStop podcast, the ex-McLaren mechanic said he once received an envelope containing €1,500.

« One of Fernando’s tactics is to try to bring the whole team to his side of the garage. He tries to take control. »

« There was a time in 2007 when Fernando showed up at a race, I showed up and Fernando’s manager, his coach, is handing out little envelopes full of cash to everyone who wasn’t on the car of Lewis. »

« So his team and the support team – I was leading the dedicated mule team so for the 2 riders – we all got these little brown envelopes and I remember opening the envelope and there were about 1,500 € or something like that. »

« It was so dodgy, first of all, you just got a blank envelope and I say ‘thank you so much, what’s that?’ and the manager walks away without saying anything. You have this thing left in your hands, you open it up and it’s literally filled with cash. »

« You start looking around you and your colleagues. ‘Have you opened yours? How much have you got?’ And all of a sudden it starts spreading through the team and the only people who haven’t gotten it are Lewis’s team. »

« All of a sudden we’re starting to understand what happened, he’s looking to get more support, he’s trying to encourage, let’s say, people to support his side in this intense battle that they were in. « 

The tactic proved unsuccessful as management found out what happened and compelled the recipients to donate the money to charity.

« On the one hand you can tell it was a smart tactic, but in the end the team obviously found out about it and had us donate it all to charity, which was good, but it was a little insight into the two different mindsets. »

« Lewis did different things, Lewis played little games with the media, they all did bad things and good things, none of us are perfect, but they followed their strategy to be the best driver Formula 1. It was different, both achieved great results in different ways, but they were very different approaches. »

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