• Spaniard says he has always worked well with team-mates
• Hamilton deadpan in response to fellow 2007 McLaren driver
Fernando Alonso stunned Lewis Hamilton here yesterday when he said he had always enjoyed a close working relationship with his team-mate, in any of the teams for whom he has driven.
In 2007, the double world champion Spaniard was the rookie Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren and their relationship was difficult, the British driver’s brilliance driving the Spaniard from the camp. But today , when Alonso was asked about his relationship with his current team-mate at Ferrari, Felipe Massa, which has been the source of much speculation, he said: “Very good, as always.”
The FIA interviewer asked, with obvious incredulity: “As always?” The impassive Alonso replied: “Yes”
The conversation then went like this:
Interviewer: “You have always had a good relationship with your team-mate?
Interviewer: “With your working relationship or …?
The bemused interrogator turned his attention to the smiling Hamilton. “Lewis, would you care to comment?”
Hamilton said: “I have had great team-mates and great relationships.”
It was not a great day for relationships. In Turkey at the end of May, the Red Bull pair, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, crashed into each other when first and second. When Webber was asked about the rapport between team-mates today , he said: “My opinion is exactly as it was. It is not the easiest to have a warm. fuzzy relationship as we are all competitors but we don’t hate each other’s guts.”
Asked about Vettel, he drawled: “Sensational, amazing. It’s a broken record.”
Jenson Button admitted to “wetting himself” after reading headlines regarding his relationship with Hamilton. The McLaren team-mates have been at pains to point out that they are working well together but rivals such as Webber have said that is nothing more than a “smoke and mirrors” act.
Button laughed off the detractors, however. “I was wetting myself when I saw the paper. It’s hilarious. There was a page with a love heart around us, and I just thought ‘that’s hilarious’. I love that. It’s good.”
The relationship between Frank Williams and his eponymous team is changing. Williams, one of the great names of Formula One, made the first move to turning his back on the sport yesterday when it was announced that he had handed day-to-day control of his team to his former chief operating officer, Adam Parr.
Williams said he had no plans to retire and that he remained committed to the team but at the age of 68 his actions will be interpreted as a first move towards withdrawing what was one of the most respected voices in the game.
He said: “I wish to emphasise very strongly that this is absolutely not my notice of impending retirement.”
“I love Formula One I have a strong involvement in the company and go to work every day. When I’m going to retire hasn’t crossed my mind.” But the speculation will not end there.
Parr, who has been involved with the team at a high level for four years, said: “I am taking over the responsibility for the overall running of the company and the team within that, but Frank remains team principal and therefore remains the name, face and inspiration of the team.
“It’s an enormous responsibility because Williams is a great company. Frank has been competing in F1 since 1969 and Williams Grand Prix Engineering Ltd since 1977 and the goal is to be doing that for decades to come.
“Part of the good order of company is to have a succession plan in place and Frank has made it clear what it is. I am very honoured to be part of it.”
When Frank Williams was in their heyday, working with Patrick Head, the team was one of the most feared in the paddock and hey won seven drivers’ championships.
Ferrari have changed their racing team logo, with a new design to come into force from 1 January. The team were criticised over an emblem that lobbyists claimed was too closely associated with Marlboro cigarettes. The new logo is more angular in shape but still bears the Prancing Horse and the words “Scuderia Ferrari”.