Fernando Alonso has hailed his former teammate Lewis Hamilton as “the best” driver in Formula 1 right now – but claims he wouldn’t be winning without Mercedes.
The Spanish superstar believes fans should be trying to find the right “package” of car and driver as opposed to one or the other, drawing on his own experience from Le Mans to defend Hamilton.
Alonso spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com at the launch of his new Amazon Prime Video documentary Fernando, available now.
He said: “Lewis is at the front because he is the best right now. He is performing a little bit extra than everyone else. It’s true that the Mercedes is the best car, but that’s not his fault. I understand the comment, it happens to any driver in the world.
“I was in Toyota last year winning Le Mans and apparently it’s because only Toyota could win Le Mans.
“It’s true, we had the best car, we performed better than anyone else, but there’s still 24 hours where anything can happen and it didn’t happen to our car or us.
“We executed well in that moment. And I know if I was in another car, maybe I would not be able to win.
“Lewis knows if he is in another car, he will not be able to win. We both understand we need the machine.
“For many years with McLaren, Lewis was teammates with Jenson [Button], teammates with [Nico] Rosberg as well, and he was not winning the championship those years. He knows he needs the best package as well.
“I understand the fans, they’re always searching for the best driver, and Formula 1 is a very difficult sport because all the cars are different, so you need to search for the best package, and they are the best.”
Alonso retired from Formula 1 at the end of the 2018 season, but a driver merry-go-round ahead of the 2021 campaign threw up an opportunity for him to get back in the hot-seat with Renault.
The 39-year-old hopes to be competitive towards the front of the grid with the French constructor once the F1 2020 calendar is over and 2021 begins, but we asked Alonso who would win in a straight race, in the same car, between himself and Hamilton.
“You never know, but that would be interesting to see.
“I think it would change day-by-day. We all have inspirational days, we all have bad days. We see Valtteri is close to Lewis in some races and win two or three per year, get a couple of pole positions, but we know Lewis can be better than Bottas 100 times out of 100.
“Lewis is performing fantastically well. You don’t win seven championships by luck or the best car; you need to deliver something extra which he does.
“Lewis is doing it every weekend. He’s an amazing talent, a good thing for the sport.
“Both of them, Michael [Schumacher] and Lewis, will be seven at the end of this year, Lewis will potentially be eight at the end of next year.
“They’ve been in the right moment with the right car, but on top of that, they did their job and they were the best in those championships. They deserve it.”
Fernando is now available on Amazon Prime Video. For the full breakdown of F1 races coming up, check out our F1 2020 calendar guide. If you’re looking for something else to watch check out our TV Guide.