In the Thursday Press Conference at Suzuka, Fernando Alonso has been expanding on his reported criticism of the Renault team. It seems that the initial newspaper article was correct (at least, Alonso did not deny it) but there is much less in the story than appeared at first sight.
Essentially, Alonso is disappointed with Fisichella’s attempts to keep Schumacher back while the Spaniard broke in his new tires.
Alonso: “What I felt there is that maybe I had a problem with the car that was a specific problem for ten laps, nine, eight or whatever, and probably I felt alone, for sure. I was first and my team-mate was second and they came to me, they overtook me and they were gone. And after, when I recovered the pace, they were too far (ahead), and for sure it is like you are in the Tour de France in the mountains, climbing, you have a puncture or whatever and your team and your rival has gone uphill with no stops. That was a little bit difficult to understand…
“…I fight with Fisichella in the last corner, Turn 14, once and he overtook me and I overtook him again because he went a little bit longer and these things, these risky moments… Three races to win the championship… your team-mate is a little bit… (Itâ€™s) not good enough, I think.”
Asked what more the team could have done to help, Alonso replied that he didn’t know. But he went on to patch up the relationship with the team:
Alonso: “All the team, all the people, are really focussed for the championship and anyway we have been leading both championships all season nearly and now the last two races all the people is motivated and the atmosphere inside the team is just super and itâ€™s the last two races of me in the team as well and every single person in the team is just focussed on the championship.”
So it appears that his outburst was the result of frustration and disappointment. That is something he will have to learn to control in future if he wants to win more championships; no team likes to be blamed for circumstances beyond their control. But, for the moment, we can accept that he is still young and feeling the pressure more than he admits to.
Whether this will affect the race on Sunday is a different matter. Schumacher looks as cool as ever in his interviews and it is tempting to assume that Fernando has exposed a weakness in himself that may lose him the championship. But it comes down to what happens on the track and that is where the German often responds to pressure with some dubious manouver or another. In contrast, Alonso looks cool and focused when in the car. We shall see.
There was one moment in the press conference that made me smile. After watching Alonso being battered by questions from the press on his indiscretion, Jenson Button was finally moved to intervene:
Q; (Ed Gorman â€“ The Times) “If Michael wins here, and you donâ€™t finish, itâ€™s all over. Is that going to affect the way you approach this race?”
JB: “Youâ€™re really helping the guyâ€™s confidence here. He is fighting for the world championship…”
It seems the British sense of fair play is not entirely dead.