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Former McLaren mechanic revealed: 'Alonso handed out bribes in 2007'

Former McLaren mechanic revealed: 'Alonso handed out bribes in 2007'

18 September - 10:00 Last update: 10:27
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GPblog.com

Former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestley has revealed that Fernando Alonso used bribes in 2007. This took the form of envelopes filled with large sums of cash. At the time, Alonso was Lewis Hamilton' s teammate and the Spaniard hoped to get more support from those within the team at Hamilton's expense in this way.

Currently, Alonso and Hamilton are also back together on the grid and there is a lot of respect between the two world champions. Yet it was different in 2007 when there was a fierce rivalry between the two who had many battles on the track.

Alonso joined McLaren in 2007 after winning two consecutive drivers' championships at Renault. Hamilton joined the Woking-based team as a rookie after his victory in the 2006 GP2 championship. The Briton had a strong start to his Formula 1 career, reaching the podium in each of his first nine races. It was not long before Alonso began to see him as a real threat.

"One of Fernando's tactics is to try to get the whole team to his side of the garage. He is trying to take control," Priestley explained in a recent episode of the PitStop Podcast. The former McLaren employee also indicates that there was a moment in 2007 when Fernando turned up at a race and Fernando's manager or trainer handed out small brown envelopes filled with cash to anyone not working on Lewis' car.

Envelope with 1,500 euros

"I remember opening the envelope and there was about 1,500 euros in it or something like that. It was so stupid. First of all, you get an unmarked brown envelope and I'm like 'thank you very much, what is that?' and the trainer wanders off and you're left with this thing and you open it and it's literally full of money." Then this issue spread around the team and the only people who got nothing was Hamilton's side. Eventually it dawned on him what happened. Alonso, according to Priestley, was looking for support and trying to get people to support his side of the garage in the intense battle they were in. Priestley says on the one hand he can say it was a clever tactic, but in the end the team clearly found out and forced everyone to donate the amount to charity.

Disastrous end to 2007

The 2007 season ended disastrously for McLaren, with both Alonso and Hamilton missing out on the drivers' championship by a single point from Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. The team was also found guilty of a high-profile espionage case when it was reported that Ferrari documents had been leaked by a team member and got into McLaren's hands. As a result, the team was eventually disqualified for their second place in the constructors' championship and fined $100 million.

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