Renault shows McLaren how to deal with controversy

So often last year, during McLaren’s torrid, controversy-filled 2007 season, I heard people saying, “If only McLaren were more open. If only they provided the radio transcripts. If only they showed us the telemetry. They could have avoided all of these PR problems.”

For instance, there was Hamilton’s alleged radio conversation with Ron Dennis where he told his boss to “go fucking swivel!” A week later McLaren denied it in a press release — but still refused to release even a transcript of the actual conversation, thereby doing absolutely nothing to quash the rumours.

Then there was Hamilton’s rumoured error in Brazil where he was said to have pressed the wrong button. Again, this has been strenuously denied by the McLaren team. But did they provide the data to prove that this was the case? Did they heck! Many still believe that Hamilton did indeed press the wrong button, and you have to say that as long as McLaren refuse to release the data then the more that view is vindicated.

Renault are obviously smart enough to realise this (even if they are not smart enough to build a quick car at the moment). The team is well-known for being among the most open and fan-friendly on the grid. While Ferrari and McLaren kept their radio conversations encrypted, Renault positively exaggerated their messages to entertain the viewers back home. And you can follow the Renaults in a unique way during the race with live telemetry output and more all accessible from the Renault website.

Soon after the race finished, as word spread across the pitlane about ITV’s “brake testing” horseshit, Pat Symonds printed out the relevant telemetry for everyone to look at. Now the facts are not in dispute. Unquestionably, Fernando Alonso did not brake test Hamilton. The data proves it.

Now only the most ignorant of F1 fans will still believe that Alonso deliberately caused a potentially race-ending and dangerous crash. If only McLaren could realise it was this easy to stop the tide of controversy.


  1. God I so hate ITV! I really hope that some people don’t go over to BBC! I mean I wouldn’t have blamed Fernando if he had brake tested git face (he hasn’t got much to lose) But come on he’s two time world champion. It’s a shame people just can’t get over the season that was 2007!

    Hammy has to learn how to deal with stress that’s why things go wrong for him! He just can’t do anything good unless he’s on pole. People need to stop wearing rose tinted glasses and relise that he’s not that good when it comes down to it. I’ll be impressed if he ever won from 3 or 4th place or further back but he can’t! Maybe some people should relise that!

    Sorry for the long comment but this weekend and ITV being all in love with Lewis again has really done my head in!

  2. I must say I was very surprised that Brundle suggested it was brake testing. I expect that sort of biased drivel from Allen, not Brundle.

    I think too, that Renault realised that they HAD to realise the telemetry or risk Alonso being investigated over something that clearly he had nothing to do with.

    But as you say, McLaren could learn a thing or two from the Renault approach. Conspiracy theorists are everywhere – the best thing to take the wind out of their sails to be open & upfront with the facts.

  3. I think the reason why McLaren don’t disclose is so that they leave themselves wiggle room when the drivers DO screw up in future – it’s easier for them to cover it up and take it as a team. If they released such data at least once or twice, they’d be expected to do it everytime. They don’t want to be put in that situation because then, they wouldn’t be able to cover for their drivers. It’s Ron’s team-first mentality at work.

  4. Being a scientist myself and a huge free software fan, I can only see benefits in open protocols and information exchange. Of course, F1 is not the place to publish everything you do, but sometimes a little bit makes the difference. In this case, Renault has bounced a potential problem for their lead pilot easily and fast. Now the ball is on the McLaren pitch. Will they be able to learn from their mistakes?
    BTW, I think that is clear that Hamilton has a problem with buttons. He needs more practice with the PS3 😉

  5. In partial defence of Brundle, he did keep on saying that he wanted to see a replay (I don’t think one ever came up did it?) before making a judgement. He sounded increasingly doubtful about his initial suspicion as the race went on.

    It would have been wiser not to mention brake-testing until after he’d seen the replay, though.

  6. Yup. I think a lot of people are forgetting — as I did — that it was actually Ted Kravitz who first mentioned the words “brake test”. Even then it was (supposedly) him reporting what others were whispering in the pitlane.

    But then Martin Brundle took the ball and ran with it. Fair enough, he kept on saying he needed to see a replay. But he obsessively returned to the subject several times, even towards the end of the race a long time after the incident. It is unusual indeed for James Allen to be the more restrained of the two.

    What got me, though, was Mark Blundell’s post-race analysis. He did have access to the replay and just dived straight in head first, bandying around the brake test accusation freely. Even in the highlights programme, Blundell said he had seen the telemetry but actually said he was reluctant to believe what the data told him in black and white and that the Alonso incident was still fishy!

    The way they were acting you would think they had never seen one car go faster than the other before. I know overtaking is rare, but it is not that rare! Yes, the speeds between the two drivers were different. But this could be for a variety of reasons of which brake test is only one.

  7. I know, I know. Odd really, although I found it quite a tedious race and you have to talk about something. I wouldn’t put Mark (sorry) in the same class as Brundle when it comes to analysis. In fact, I’ve never been all that sure why ITV stick with him, or do the two MBs come as a package?

  8. Ah yes Blundle and Brundell. They are business partners and I am sure close friends as well. I guess ITV stick with Blundell because he is a populist. As I recall, they even pretty much said as much when they ditched Tony Jardine.

  9. Surely Kravitz (not his real name) should have toddled off like a responsible journalist and asked Renault for their side of the story before he shot his mouth off?

  10. So what if it was a brake-test? Recall
    Monaco 1992, Senna was brake-testing Mansell
    all through the final laps. Mansell had
    nothing but praise for Senna at his ability
    to keep him behind. Also note it’s not
    Hamilton or McLaren that are suggesting a
    brake-test, just the media. You drive into
    the back of someone, it’s your fault: on the
    road, touring cars or F1.