McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has insisted that the rift between Fernando Alonso and the team in 2007 is now “ancient history”, calling any idea of a continued spat “nonsense”.
Alonso joined McLaren for the first time for the 2007 season after winning back-to-back titles with Renault, and missed out on a third championship by just a solitary point.
However, in spite of the team’s success on-track, Alonso became embroiled in a rivalry with rookie teammate Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, believing that he deserved number one status at the British team.
McLaren was thrown out of the constructors’ championship and fined $100m for espionage in what was known as the ‘Spygate’ scandal, with Alonso reportedly threatening to blackmail Dennis with evidence regarding the case. Unsurprisingly, he parted company with the team at the end of the year.
However, after five unsuccessful years with Ferrari, Alonso has now returned to McLaren for the 2015 season, but many within the sport believe that the relationship is only poised to end in a similar way to how it did eight years ago.
Speaking to the official Formula 1 website, Dennis insisted that 2007 is simply a distant memory to those involved in the Spygate scandal.
“People tend to talk a lot of nonsense about the McLaren-Alonso relationship,” Dennis said. “Okay, 2007 was a stressful year, even though we won eight races and scored more world championship points than any other team that season.
“But that’s ancient history now. We’ve all moved on – and by ‘we’ I mean McLaren, Ferrari and indeed the FIA.
“And the Fernando we’re working with today, now, is a fantastically motivated and inspirational man. He’s as quick as ever, as competitive as ever, more experienced than ever, more expert than ever, and he combines those traits with an infectious energy and enthusiasm.
“We’ll win again, we’ll dominate again, and we’ll do that together, with Fernando front and central. It’ll be a wonderful culmination to his glittering career, and all at McLaren and all at Honda are utterly dedicated to the task of working with him, with Jenson [Button] and with everyone else, to help him achieve it.”
Towards the end of his time with Ferrari, it was suggested that Alonso may have been looking to use a move to McLaren as a stop-gap before joining the dominant Mercedes team as Lewis Hamilton’s replacement for the 2016 season if the Briton did not sign a new contract.
Dennis has made clear in the past that Alonso has no kind of get-out clause in his contract to allow this to happen, and reiterated his point once again.
“He has a straight three-year contract with us, with no options,” Dennis said. “It’s as simple as that. That’s what we wanted to offer him, and that’s what he wanted to sign. I can’t make it plainer than that, can I?”