Lewis Hamilton described Fernando Alonso as his toughest Formula 1 opponent of all time on the eve of his historic 300th Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton, who will start his 300th grand prix this weekend, claims Fernando Alonso is the most challenging driver he has seen in Formula 1.
On Sunday at the French Grand Prix, Hamilton will become the sixth driver to accomplish the milestone. By the conclusion of the season, he is expected to pass Jenson Button for the most races won by a British driver.
It all began when Hamilton was given the opportunity to race for McLaren in 2007, then-team owner Ron Dennis marked the beginning of his ascent to the top of motorsport. In his sixth race in Canada, Hamilton, who raced for the Woking team with Alonso as his teammate, captured his first Grand Prix win.
However, a savage intra-team competition between the Spaniard and the Briton destroyed their friendship in the middle of the campaign and ultimately prompted Alonso to return to Renault at the end of the campaign.
Both drivers have forgiven each other fifteen years later, and when asked to choose his greatest F1 rival, Hamilton singled out his former foe on Thursday at Paul Ricard.
“I think it’s difficult to say who has necessarily been the strongest competitor because every time you’re with someone, you’re in a different place in your life,” Hamilton said.
“I remember the task of being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young mentally and, of course, OK in terms of skill but it’s a lot of pressure to go up against a great like Fernando.”
“I would say on pure pace, Fernando. We had some good battles. I wish we could have more. Hopefully he will continue to race so hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”
Alonso, who is almost 41 years old, acknowledged that competing head-to-head with Hamilton has always been enjoyable.
“I don’t think that he has changed much, to be honest,” added the two-time world champion and Alpine driver. “He had the talent already in 2007, he still has the talent now with experience.
“He has been a tremendous driver, a legend of our sport, so it has been always a pleasure to share all this time with him. And back then probably no one thought that someone will be able to win seven titles as Michael [Schumacher]. The journey has been amazing.”
“The team that they all built in Mercedes over these years, it was outstanding. Congratulations to the 300.”