Special scrutineer to keep an eye on Alonso's car

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LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) Formula One's governing body will appoint an official to ensure Fernando Alonso gets equal treatment to McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton at next week's title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.

''We can confirm that the FIA is in the process of appointing a special scrutineer for the Brazilian Grand Prix,'' a spokesman for the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said today.

Hamilton, the 22-year-old Briton who could become the first rookie to win the Formula One title as well as the youngest champion, leads Spaniard Alonso by four points ahead of the decider at Interlagos on Sunday week.

Finland's Kimi Raikkonen is a further three points back for Ferrari in the first three-way battle down to the wire since 1986.

Carlos Gracia, head of the Spanish Motorsport Federation who will be attending the race at Interlagos as a guest of McLaren boss Ron Dennis, told AS newspaper that he had raised concerns with FIA President Max Mosley last week.

''I showed my concern over the situation that Fernando is going through, which is no secret, and he reassured me,'' said Gracia.

''The FIA are going to have an official who is going to watch very closely that nothing bad happens to Fernando, above all in qualifying, which is where there have been most complaints or strange situations in recent races,'' said Gracia.

Hamilton has been backed by McLaren for the past decade while Alonso joined from Renault at the end of last year and has become increasingly isolated within the team.

Team boss Ron Dennis revealed last week that their relationship was very cold and they were no longer on speaking terms while Hamilton has accused the double world champion of lacking loyalty.

The breakdown in relations has been exacerbated by e-mails from Alonso that were used in evidence against the team in a spying controversy that cost McLaren the constructors' championship and a 100 million dollar fine.

The Spaniard was strongly critical of Dennis and the team at last weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, suggesting again that McLaren were favouring Hamilton.

''My confidence in this team is zero,'' AS quoted him as saying after qualifying in Shanghai while Dennis said after Hamilton skidded out of that race that ''we weren't racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando.'' The Mercedes-powered team issued a statement yesterday reiterating their determination to treat both drivers equally in Brazil.

REUTERS PDS PM1830

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