Ex-McLaren engineer claims Fernando should’ve won 2008 title, not Lewis Hamilton

Fernando Alonso raced for McLaren during the 2007 season and then again from 2015-2018.

Given that Fernando Alonso is the oldest driver on the grid, it would come as no shock that he’s experienced more than most in Formula 1, in regard to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The double World Champion has tasted success, embarrassment, and controversy during his F1 career, with all three having been experienced in 2007.

Alonso dramatically switched from Renault to McLaren for the 2007 F1 World Championship, with the Spaniard having entered the campaign having won the 2005 and 2006 titles with the French outfit.

Alongside him at the Woking-based side was a certain Lewis Hamilton, who was set for big things in his rookie campaign.

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The duo did not get on, as they both battled for the title, whilst getting in each other’s way as well.

Alonso was known to be unhappy that McLaren didn’t give him ‘number one’ status, with the duo having largely been treated as equals due to their title ambitions.

Somebody who saw the situation build was Alonso’s race engineer at the time, Mark Slade, who switched with the 41-year-old from Renault to McLaren.

Slade labelled his time with the Aston Martin driver as “great”, with the Spanish veteran having “never” given up.

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“Working with Fernando was great,” Slade told MotorLAT.

“He is the terminator of Formula 1, isn’t he? He just never gives up, and he’s just super-fast.

“You just knew that you were working with someone who was trying desperately to win every race he entered, so that was fantastic.”

Embarrassingly, neither Alonso nor Hamilton claimed the 2007 title, as they were beaten by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, in what was a thrilling season finale at Interlagos.

Following their issues, Alonso quickly departed McLaren and returned to Renault, with the British side having agreed to end the Spaniard’s multi-year contract.

Hamilton, of course, went on to claim his first of seven World Championships in 2008, with Slade predicting that Alonso would’ve won the 2008 title himself as well as others had he remained with the side.

Slade also pinpointed that the team were the issue, not Alonso, with the Spaniard’s former race engineer noting that the “team atmosphere was pretty poor”.

“The problems were more within the team, to be honest,” Slade explained.

“The team atmosphere was pretty poor. I think a few things happened that exaggerated the problems that were there.

“I would say it could have been better handled from a management perspective and a team objective.

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“Things didn’t work the way they should have done. Really we just threw away the championship in 2007.

“I think if Fernando had been backed properly, we probably would have won the ’07 and ’08 championships. Who knows what would have happened after that but there you go. It’s the way it was.

“I never had a problem with Fernando himself. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.”