Two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso says that Lewis Hamilton is amongst the top five Formula One drivers of all time, as the Brit looks to equal Juan Manual Fangio’s five world titles this weekend.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s 2018 United States Grand Prix, Alonso says that he is happy that it is Hamilton who has proved to be the most successful driver of the modern era.
Eleven years ago, the two were locked in an intense inter-team rivalry that saw the pair miss out on the driver’s title by a single point in Brazil before Alonso was ultimately dropped by the team at the end of the season.
Nevertheless, the former Scuderia Ferrari driver is happy to put past disagreements behind him, admitting that Hamilton’s ‘commitment’ to racing has elevated him above the rest.
“Michael [Schumacher], Fangio, Senna, Prost, and Hamilton,” said Alonso.
“They are the top five that come to my mind, but it’s difficult to compare different times and different ways to win those championships.
“Lewis winning five now and being the same as Fangio, as I said before, it’s a great achievement.
“If one driver had to do that in our generation, then I am happy that it’s Lewis as he has shown the talent and he shown the commitment.
“When the car was dominating he delivers and won the championship. When the car was not good enough to win the championship, he still put in some performances to show his talent and that’s difficult to see in our days.”
Hamilton’s debut in 2007 shocked the F1 world, as he entered the final two rounds of his rookie season with an astonishing twelve point lead.
A retirement in China, after beaching his car in a pit-lane gravel trap, and a seventh place finish in Brazil handed the championship to Kimi Raikkonen but Alonso says that Hamilton’s bright future was clear to see from the beginning.
“He had demonstrated his talent from day one, and fighting for the Championship in his rookie year, winning in 2008,” he said.
“At that time, we all agreed that five or even seven World Championships would be possible for him.
“Then, obviously, that expectation came down due a little due to the performance of the car for a couple of years.
“Switching to Mercedes at that time, we all were thinking that maybe was not positive for him – because at that time Mercedes were struggling.
“I am happy for him because he demonstrated his talent from day one.
“He was able to win races when the car was there to win it but he was able to win races in some of the seasons when the car was not in the top of the form, like 2009.
“It’s impressive – and now it’s time for him to enjoy it. So, I’m happy.”