Fernando Alonso leads the F1 world championship, but his Renault team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, has been hampered by poor reliability and mishaps, such as stalling his car during a crucial point in the British GP. Is there a sinister reason for the Italian's misfortune?

Fernando Alonso leads the F1 world championship, but his Renault team-mate, Giancarlo Fisichella, has been hampered by poor reliability and mishaps, such as stalling his car during a crucial point in the British GP. Is there a sinister reason for the Italian's misfortune?


Fisichella hasn't often matched Alonso's pace since he won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and the Italian has struggled with poor race reliability whereas his team-mate's only non-finish (at the Canadian Grand Prix) was due to driver error. On one of the few occasions that Fisichella was on Alonso's pace, such as the recent grand prix at Silverstone, the Italian had an uncharacteristic technical problem during his second pit stop, which cost him a third place finish and any chances of beating his team-mate.


Subsequently, some sections of the F1 media have suggested that the Italian was not being given equal tretment to his Spanish team-mate. However, Renault's technical director (chassis) Bob Bell on Monday dismissed talk of favouritism within the team.


"The answer is very clear: we do not give different equipment or treatment to our drivers. It is not in our interests to do so, and quite simply, we don't do it," Bell said.


"At this stage in the year, we want to do everything we can to protect Fernando's position in the drivers' championship," he added. "But for the team - the 750 people working in Enstone and Viry - the constructors' championship is the more important of the two titles, both in terms of motivation but also the financial benefits it brings for the team. It is very important to win it, and to do so, you need two cars finishing well; it makes no sense to favour one driver over another. However, I am sure the fight in the constructors' title will go down to the last race - it is going to be very close".


Although F1 insiders may argue that Alonso was simply better at exploiting the R25's handling characteristics than Fisichella and had established a crucial psychological advantage over the diminutive Italian, the timing of Fisichella's problem at Silverstone (when the Italian was threatening Alonso's race position) raised eyebrows.


But of Fisichella's stall, Bell said: "Fernando has come very close to having similar problems to Giancarlo in race conditions and we have encountered the issue on other occasions, so we worked during testing last week to make the car and engine easier for the drivers to use reliably in these 'critical' phases".


Meanwhile, the embattled Fisichella rallied to the defence of his team: "I don't understand how people can think that when you are trying to win the constructors' championship, you would favour one car over another? People outside the team do not see what happens inside, how hard we all work together to improve the car, how we do 700 km each day at the tests, the meetings at the factory, and the effort of all the designers, engineers, mechanics to score as many points as possible. I know they are supporting me 100 per cent and we work as a team. In the end, that is what matters."