Few would dispute Fernando Alonso’s status as one of F1’s all-time greats. But how does the Spaniard feel he compares to the likes of Lewis Hamilton?
Stacking up a driver against another on talent alone is a futile exercise that rarely leads to a consensus view among pundits, even more so when a comparison involves racers from different generations.
But Hamilton and Alonso actually went head-to-head at one point in their respective career, when the two drivers raced at McLaren in 2007, the former as a rookie and the latter as a two-time world champion with Renault.
The pair concluded their season second and third in the championship standings with an equal number of points – 109, and four wins each, but just a single point behind world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Asked in a podcast for website WTF1 who he felt was the better driver based on their 2007 campaign.
The Spaniard dug in, but invoked mitigating circumstances for both himself and his opponent.
“It’s difficult to compare times, difficult to compare drivers in the same time because you need to have all the things and all the ingredients together to have a fair answer,” Alonso commented.
“It’s true that having the same car and the same team in one year, that is a good opportunity to compare drivers and the final score was 109-109 in terms of points. So that’s already one answer.
“It’s true that people say it was his rookie year and it was not my rookie year. At the same time I can say it was a change to Bridgestone, like a GP2 tyre of that time, compared to the Michelin and the Bridgestone that we were running in the past.
“My first three or four races and all my winter testing were very compromised by this tyre and I had to re-adapt a lot of things on my style.
“It never got public that thing, because it’s not of interest to the public. But his rookie year, true the Bridgestone tyre changed that year.”
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Alonso also pointed to luck – or rather bad luck – as a factor in 2007 that prevented either man from beating Raikkonen to the title.
“Luck factor is also an important thing,” he added. “Lewis had the pit-lane entry in Shanghai at the penultimate race, that was a bad moment for him.
“I had two issues with the gearbox, starting 10th in two races. I had one of the most unfair penalties in Hungary with the pit-lane block, it was pole at that time, and from pole position you start 10th in Hungary.
“Then if you lose the Championship for one point, that hurts when it’s something like that.
“So 109-109 I’m happy, and I see now Lewis’ success, and in Formula 1 it is difficult to compare Michael [Schumacher], Lewis, [Ayrton] Senna.
“They have all been great in different eras and a lot of victories, but for sure you need a car and a package that Lewis has at the moment and he’s delivering.”
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