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F1 NEWS 

Dennis explains Alonso announcement

McLaren chief Ron Dennis has explained the reasons behind the early announcement of Fernando Alonso's signing, stating the controversial timing was aimed at preventing a leak of the deal to the press.

McLaren has caught the F1 world by surprise when they announced in mid-December 2005 that world champion Alonso will join the their team in 2007.

Alonso's current team boss, Renault chief Flavio Briatore, was critical of McLaren's early announcement.

Others, including F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, said the timing of the announcement was aimed at humiliating Renault at a time when they celebrate their 2005 double championship win - having beaten McLaren to both titles.

However, in a lengthy interview with F1 Racing, Dennis said the announcement was inevitable - and in fact the deal was kept a secret until Alonso was able to notify Briatore personally.

"Within 24 hours of [Alonso] having inked his signature [on the contract with McLaren], I'd say roughly 25 people knew," Dennis explained.

"They all understood the commitment I'd make to Fernando that his signing would have to remain confidential until he'd had the opportunity to inform Flavio.

"Equally, it was understood that, as soon as he'd informed Flavio, I'd inform our drivers - because, obviously, I wanted them to hear it from me, and, equally obviously, one way or another, it would leak.

"Things like that always leak in the end. And then, after I'd told our drivers, there would be a press release.

"But four weeks went by, and, owing to factors outside Fernando's control, he couldn't manage to meet Flavio to tell him the news. He tried quite a few times, but a meeting proved impossible to arrange.

"In the end, after six weeks of trying, and being very keen to inform Flavio before the news leaked, Fernando had to inform him by telephone.

"Flavio telephoned me and asked me to delay the press release by a week, but I was in an impossible situation. By that time, a large number of people knew. Keeping it a secret was no longer realistic. I didn't want the news to go public via a leak."

Alonso's McLaren deal had indeed been leaked, and autosport.com contacted McLaren's press office for reaction to the then-rumours on the morning of December 19th. This in turn led the team to issue the official announcement an hour later.

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