Hamilton names Alonso as toughest F1 rival

Fernando Alonso

Lewis Hamilton has named Fernando Alonso as the greatest rival he’s had throughout his Formula 1 career.

Hamilton this weekend chalks up his 300th world championship grand prix start, becoming just the sixth driver in F1 history to reach the milestone.

Now a seven-time world champion, the Englishman made his debut with McLaren in 2007 alongside Alonso, the pair both coming within a point of the world championship that season.

Hamilton went on to win his maiden title the following season, before a run of six in seven years from 2014 after switching to Mercedes.

Reflecting on his career to date, the 37-year-old singled out his former team-mate as his fiercest rival.

“I think it’s difficult to say who’s necessarily been the strongest competitor, I think 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 in terms of skill, but it’s a lot of pressure to go up against a guy like him.

“So, I would say, out of pure pace, I think I would say it’s Fernando.

“We had some good battles, I wish we could have more, and hopefully he’s going to continue to race, so hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”

Alonso (345 starts) is also a member of the 300-race club, and is on course to overtake Kimi Raikkonen (350) as the most experienced driver in F1 history before the end of the season.

“I don’t think that he’s changed much, to be honest,” the Spaniard said of his former team-mate.

“He had the talent already in 2007 and he still has the talent now, with experience.

“He has been a tremendous driver, and a legend of our sport.

“Has always been 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,” he continued.

“The team that they all built, in Mercedes over these years, he was outstanding. Congratulations for the 300, and hopefully another win soon.”

Alongside his seven world championships, Hamilton has accumulated 103 wins, and the same number of pole positions, and 60 fastest laps.

Reflecting on his career to date, Hamilton identified three races as highlights above the others.

“Your first grand prix is always going to be one, and your first win,” he admitted.

“Your home grand prix as well. Those three are probably the most standout ones.

“It’s just the realisation of reaching your drive. It’s a very, very surreal experience.

“It’s always going to be your first there’s only one first, so just getting o the first grand prix in 2007, the amount of sleepless nights as a family that all of us had, not know whether or no we would actually reach our goal, reach our dream.

“But never giving up nonetheless and being there, so I think that’s probably going to be the real highlight.”

Hamilton made his debut at the 2007 Australian Grand Prix, and recorded his first win at that year’s Canadian GP, just his sixth F1 start.

He ended the season equal second with Alonso in the title fight, a point behind world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

This season he’s sixth in the standings after 11 of 22 races, with four third places (and currently three in as many races) his best results to date.

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