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Briatore: Alonso was convinced his speed was enough to topple Hamilton at McLaren

Read Sport logo Read Sport 28/03/2020 Hamilton Lyndon-Griffiths
Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso posing for the camera: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 2007 F1 Launch © Paul Gilham/Getty Images Sport Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 2007 F1 Launch

Ex-Formula 1 team boss Flavio Briatore has revealed he warned Fernando Alonso about his move to McLaren for 2007 but the Spaniard did not share his concerns.

After becoming F1’s youngest-ever world champion in 2005 under Briatore’s leadership, Alonso announced he’s signed a deal to race for McLaren in 2007.

Alonso successfully retained his crown in ’06 before his ill-fated switch, where he would partner British rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton.

Speaking to Beyond the Grid, Briatore admits he was sceptical of Alonso’s decision and tried to talk him out of the move.

“He went to McLaren and this I was not happy [with] because this was not Schumi to go to Ferrari. This was Fernando to go to McLaren, and for Fernando, McLaren was never in [his] dream,” Briatore said.

“Especially I tell him: you have the new guy, and the new guy was Lewis Hamilton, and the new guy is in the pocket of Ron Dennis, like you with me! And I promise you, you [will] have the fighting and the guy is protected by Ron Dennis.”

Although Alonso felt sure he could outpace Hamilton as team-mates, Briatore believes Hamilton’s sheer speed caught him and even McLaren boss Ron Dennis off guard.

“No, no, no. I am quicker,” Briatore says of Alonso’s response to his concerns. “But the point is nobody including Ron Dennis understood how quick was Lewis Hamilton.

“Because if Ron Dennis understands how quick was Hamilton, he [would] not spend the amount of money he paid Fernando. If I know in my house I have a driver so quick, why do I need another one? And it was a big fight.”

Alonso has repeatedly shared his desire to return to F1 under the new regulations package, and Briatore has backed the double world champion to succeed if he can land a top seat.

“100%. He is a Rottweiler. 100%,” he added. “We will see. I don’t know. A lot of contracts expire and people move up and down, so we will see

“I would like to see Fernando in one team that has 50% of the possibility where you start the race to win the race. [But] it’s not so many [teams]. You have Mercedes, you have Ferrari, you have Red Bull.”

Pictures: Formula One championship winners over the years

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