Former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestly says Fernando Alonso once offered to pay mechanics in an attempt to win their loyalty over Lewis Hamilton when the two were teammates back in 2007.
The two drivers shared the McLaren garage in what was a tumultuous 2007 Formula 1 season for the team. McLaren were excluded from the Constructors’ Championship due to Spygate, as the Woking team were found in possession of confidential Ferrari design documents.
As for the two drivers, they ended up losing the World Championship by one point to Ferrari‘s Kimi Raikkonen at the final race of the season in Brazil.
Alonso’s tactics to win McLaren mechanics
Within the team, the animosity between the two drivers grew as the season went on. Alonso was the reigning two-time F1 World Champion, while Hamilton began to turn heads with his impressive performances in what was his debut campaign.
While speaking on the PitStop podcast, Priestly shed some light on some of the tactics Alonso used to try and get the better of Hamilton, including paying the McLaren mechanics.
“One of Fernando’s tactics is to try to bring the whole team on his side of the garage,” Priestley said.
“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 €1,500. It was all so shady. 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.”
Alonso left McLaren after 2007 and returned to Renault, while Hamilton remained with the team until 2013, when he departed for Mercedes.