Fernando Alonso gives hard slap to Lewis Hamilton as ‘salty’ dynamic returns

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, shake hands. Canada, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes and Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, shake hands on the podium. Canada, June 2023.

Lewis Hamilton received a firm shoulder slap from Fernando Alonso after a light-hearted dig post-race, though a former team-mate of both, Jenson Button, says their on-track relationship remains “salty”.

With Hamilton and Alonso in close quarters as they gave their respective interviews in the TV pen after the Canadian Grand Prix, Hamilton quipped, referring to Alonso, that “his reactions are a little slow…it’s an age thing”, that in reference to Hamilton getting the jump on his former team-mate at the race start to snatch away P2.

That drew a wry smile from the Spaniard, who replied with “Austria, two weeks’ time” before leaning over to give Hamilton a very firm pat on the shoulder.

Hamilton and Alonso were McLaren team-mates in Hamilton’s debut season back in 2007, and the ripple effect from that turbulent year has seemingly followed the duo throughout their careers since, with the pair still no strangers to run-ins and these cheeky digs.

It was put to Button though, who was a McLaren team-mate to Hamilton and then Alonso, that their relationship these days is built on “admiration and respect” after the “salty” dynamic of their past.

Button though believes that “salty” side is still very much there when it comes to the on-track competition.

“No, it’s still a little salty in fact,” Button told Sky Sports F1. “I think when they’re on track and talking about each other it’s very salty.

“Off track it is very different when the emotions are not so high.”

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Hamilton was initially able to shield his P2 spot from Alonso, though after the Spaniard made the pass at the final chicane to reclaim the position, it seemed as though he was well on the way to a second P2 finish of the season.

There was some doubt thrown into the mix later though when Mercedes told Hamilton that Alonso was seemingly struggling with rear brake issues, though Hamilton was unable to close in, ultimately finishing four-and-a-half seconds behind the Spaniard.

Button said Alonso had tried post-race to deny any knowledge of what was going on, Button arguing that Alonso did know, but does not want the outside world to be in the know too.

“Great to see them fighting on track,” Button continued.

“When I interviewed Fernando earlier, and I asked about the rear brakes or fuel saving, lift and coast, he said ‘I don’t know why they told me to…’, he knows everything, Fernando, that’s going on within that team, he just doesn’t want to let us know.”

With his P2 finish Alonso was able to further close in on Red Bull’s Sergio Perez who holds P2 in the Drivers’ Championship, his advantage now down to just nine points.