McLaren had a difficult time with the tensions between Lewis Hamilton, a rookie making his Formula 1 debut, and Fernando Alonso, who was the reigning double F1 champion at the time.

A former McLaren mechanic has disclosed some intriguing details regarding the controversial 2007 Formula 1 season, during which Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton raced under the McLaren badge claiming the former paid mechanics for their loyalty.

The duo battled on the track and used a variety of strategies in their battle for dominance within the squad, with Hamilton, to his surprise, keeping close to his seasoned partner throughout the season. The two finished with an equal number of points, but Hamilton was ahead in the rankings.

This was the same year when McLaren was excluded from the constructors’ classification and stripped of its points after the Spygate scandal, where the Woking team was discovered to be in possession of secret Ferrari design documents. Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari edged them out and won the championship by just one point.

All of that is well-known and has been covered, but former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestly provided new details in an interview with PitStop discussing 2007 and various strategies Alonso used in his race against Hamilton.

“One of Fernando’s tactics is to try to bring the whole team on his side of the garage,” Priestley revealed.

“In 2007 there was a moment when he showed up for a race and when I arrived the manager or his coach was handing out small brown envelopes full of money to anyone who wasn’t in Lewis’s car.”

“I remember opening the envelope and there was about 1500 euros… it was all so shady,” he added. “First of all, you are given an unmarked brown envelope and you say, ‘Thank you very much, what is it?’.”

“Then the preparer leaves and you are left with this thing, you open it and it is literally full of cash.”

“Suddenly the news started spreading around the team and the only ones who hadn’t received anything were the members of Lewis’s team.”

“Eventually the team found out and made us donate the entire amount to charity , which went well, but it was a little hint to understand the two different mentalities.”

After leaving McLaren in 2007, Alonso rejoined his former team Renault for the seasons of 2008 and 2009 before switching to Ferrari from 2010 until 2014.

Alonso, who spent four dismal seasons slogging around at the rear of the grid with a poor chassis and weak Honda and Renault engines, unexpectedly returned to McLaren for the 2015 season.

Alonso announced his retirement at the end of 2018, however, he made a return to Alpine which was formerly Renault in 2021 and the current season. For 2023, he will be moving to Aston Martin after the two parties announced a deal.

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