Alonso takes controversial Hungarian Grand Prix pole

Alonso Hungarian GP qualifying

Double world champion Fernando Alonso took a controversial pole position for this Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix by holding up his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the pits.

The British rookie had dominated the first two sessions of qualifying, setting the quickest time in his MP4-22. But come session three – the top ten shootout for pole position – Hamilton was denied the opportunity by his team-mate Alonso.

The Spaniard was the first car to be serviced by his team, fitting new Bridgestone tyres and fuel for the final lap run. Although he was waved out by his McLaren pit crew Alonso remained stationery for several seconds – holding up Hamilton, who was waiting directly behind… By the time the team serviced the second driver, the current championship leader had insufficient time to complete an out lap before the chequered flag.

As for Alonso, he managed to cross the start/finish line with four seconds to spare and recorded his fastest time (1 min. 19.674 secs) to take pole position. It wasn’t sporting but nevertheless, the Spaniard has the track advantage going into the race. The Hungaroring is notorious known as a difficult race circuit to overtake on, due to long corners and lack of straights…

Behind the leading two McLarens is Nick Heidfeld in the BMW-Sauber. The German took advantage by tactical errors from Ferrari, but it remains unclear whether the team is running Heidfeld’s car light on fuel for track position or has genuine pace to challenge the leaders.

Kimi Raikkonen will start in fourth, several places ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa. The Brazilian suffered a nightmare qualifying session. First the team didn’t put enough fuel into his F2007 and then, drove a pretty poor lap in session two. Massa will start the race way down in 14th position.

Nico Rosberg benefited from this strategic error by the Italian team to qualifying fifth in his Williams ahead of Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher.

Robert Kubica will start the race in seventh, with Giancarlo Fisichella, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber rounding up the final ten places.

As for the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button, the Honda driver struggled with a lack of downforce and will start in a disappointing 17th.

So the stage is set for another Fernando versus Lewis battle. With Hamilton unimpressed by the supposedly deliberate hold up in the pits, can he seek revenge by beating his team-mate with race victory? Or will Alonso continue his winning performance following his superb Nurburgring race win two weeks ago? What about Raikkonen? Can the Ice-Man stop the silver cars? As for Massa, he needs to avoid any incidents as he recovers from a low grid position.

Qualifying times from the Hungaroring

1. ALONSO McLaren 1m19.674s
2. HAMILTON McLaren 1m19.781s
3. HEIDFELD BMW 1m20.259s
4. RAIKKONEN Ferrari 1m20.410s
5. ROSBERG Williams 1m20.632s
6. SCHUMACHER Toyota 1m21.714s
7. KUBICA BMW 1m21.876s
8. FISICHELLA Renault 1m23.079s
9. TRULLI Toyota 1m21.206s
10. WEBBER Red Bull 1m21.256s
11. COULTHARD Red Bull 1m20.718s
12. KOVALAINEN Renault 1m20.779s
13. WURZ Williams 1m20.865s
14. MASSA Ferrari 1m21.021s
15. DAVIDSON Super Aguri 1m21.127s
16. LIUZZI Toro Rosso 1m21.993s
17. BUTTON Honda 1m21.737s
18. BARRICHELLO Honda 1m21.877s
19. SATO Super Aguri 1m22.143s
20. VETTEL Toro Rosso 1m22.177s
21. SUTIL Spyker 1m22.737s
22. YAMAMOTO Spyker 1m23.774s

UPDATE: The Hungarian Grand Prix stewards are reviewing the incident involving Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton during Saturday’s qualifying.

Alonso took a controversial pole position from team-mate Hamilton after the rookie was unable to complete his final flying lap due to the Spaniard delaying his exit from the pitlane.

The two-time champion was waved to get going by his mechanics, but he stood still for some 10 seconds while Hamilton waited behind him. The delay meant Hamilton was unable to complete his final run in time.

After qualifying, the FIA decided to investigate the incident, and team boss Ron Dennis was called by the stewards.

The stewards also asked to review the radio communications related to that pitstop.


Well, well. It seems actions might be taken on Alonso. Will he be disqualified or have his qualifying times deleted? One thing for sure, it wasn’t sporting to hold up your team-mate who is causing you so much stress in Formula One this year. Clearly, this is getting personal for the Spaniard as he seeks to gain any advantage over Hamilton…

LATEST: World Champion Fernando Alonso has lost his pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix and will start tomorrow’s race in sixth place.

The race stewards at the Hungaroring have decided to demote the McLaren driver after reviewing evidence from today’s qualifying session, where the Spaniard held up teammate Lewis Hamilton in the pits, causing the Briton to miss out on a final flying lap and possible pole.

Alonso was adamant that he remained stationary for ten seconds because his engineers had told him to, while team boss Ron Dennis told reporters after the session that the incident was a result of Hamilton himself ignoring team orders earlier on in the session, therefore leaving the two drivers out of sequence.

The stewards talked to representatives of the team and reviewed recordings of the car radio transmissions before making their decision, over eight hours after qualifying ended.

The stewards of the Hungarian Grand Prix have also penalised the McLaren team, saying the outfit will not be awarded any constructors points in tomorrow’s race.

This comes along with a five-place demotion for Fernando Alonso, who has lost his pole position and will start tomorrow’s race in sixth place.

The stewards said they did not accept the team’s explanations nor Alonso’s for the incident in today’s qualifying, which saw the Spaniard hold up his teammate Lewis Hamilton, causing the Briton to lose the opportunity to run another flying lap.

McLaren have the right to appeal the stewards’ decision.


Wow! Not only Alonso loses his pole position but the team won’t be allowed to score championship points in the race… It hasn’t been a good couple of days for Formula One and McLaren – especially with the recent ‘spy’ scandal.

3 thoughts to “Alonso takes controversial Hungarian Grand Prix pole”

  1. Smacks of a damage limitation story really. The chances are the first half of the story might be true – Alonso should have been the first at the end of the pitlane for the start of Q3. Instead, the sight of Hamilton disappearing into the distance regardless must have riled Alonso so much that he wanted to get his own back. Afterall, (i)if the lollipop man was wrong and the GPS engineer was right then why was Alonso “sent” out right in front of Raikkonen? Had he went at the lollipop man’s direction he would have been 10 secs further ahead. (ii) it also would have been much more obvious to send Alonso away to the end of the pitlane (where he’s allowed to wait and still be in radio contact) and let the pitcrew service Hamilton than going through all this nonsense – it’s not as if McLaren needs anymore possible trouble with the authorities at the moment, nevermind the bad PR.

  2. Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix from first on the grid after original polesitter, McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso, was deemed to have impeded the Englishman during qualifying.

    Alonso has been demoted to sixth by the stewards, who decided he had unnecessarily delayed Hamilton during their final Q3 pitstops. McLaren were also punished for the incident and will not be eligible for constructors’ points in the race, though the team are to appeal this decision.

    Hamilton missed out on the chance of a final flying lap in qualifying after he was forced to wait for Alonso to leave his pit. McLaren told stewards that they had ordered the champion to hold for 20 seconds to gain track position. However, he then remained stationary for a further 10 seconds.

    Alonso claimed the additional delay was because he was asking whether the correct set of tyres had been fitted to his car. He said he was unable to ask this in the prior 20 seconds, as radio communication was impossible due to his engineer giving him the countdown to leave.

    “The explanation given by Alonso as to why at the expiration of the 20 second period he remained in his pit stop position for a further 10 seconds is not accepted,” said officials. “The Stewards find that he unnecessarily impeded another driver, Hamilton, and as a result he will be penalised by a loss of 5 grid positions.”

    Neither did the stewards accept McLaren’s explanation concerning the original 20-second delay: “Reference to the circuit map shows that at the time Alonso was told he would be held for 20 seconds there were but 4 cars on the circuit, his own and those of Fisichella, Hamilton and Raikkonen. All but Raikkonen entered the pits such that there can have been no necessity to keep Alonso in the pits for 20 seconds waiting for a convenient gap in traffic in which to leave.”

    The stewards’ statement continued: “The actions of the team in the final minutes of Qualifying are considered prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally. The penalty to be applied is that such points (if any) in the 2007 Formula One Constructors Championship as accrue to the team as a result of their participation in the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix will be withdrawn.”

    McLaren will now race under appeal, with any constructors’ points they score in Hungary remaining provisional until that appeal is heard at a later date. Alonso has no right of appeal over his penalty.

    In a separate incident, Renault’s Giancarlo Fisichella was also demoted five places on the grid after he was deemed to have impeded Spyker’s Sakon Yamamoto on track during Q1. Fisichella drops from eighth to 13th in the starting order.


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