Fernando Alonso has praised Lewis Hamilton’s ability to keep fighting even during a rare period of uncompetitiveness in the Mercedes driver’s career.
There have not been many moments in Hamilton’s F1 career when he has been well out of the title race. Coming into a McLaren team that was capable of winning titles in 2007, Hamilton has since had a shot at almost every championship until 2022.
It was put to Alonso, a man whose experience is the opposite, if Hamilton had the same career as the Spaniard, would he have quit but Alonso did not think that would be the case.
Fernando Alonso praises Lewis Hamilton’s competitive drive
Alonso and Hamilton are the two longest serving members of the F1 grid having been part of the sport for over a decade and a half.
During that time, they have got to know each other with the two sharing a hostile atmosphere as team-mates in 2007. But in their older age, the pair have mellowed and appear to have one of the better understandings of drivers on the grid.
To that extent, Alonso is perhaps well placed to comment on Hamilton’s career and it was put to him that if the Mercedes driver had experienced the same kind of path as Alonso, would he have stuck to it?
Alonso thinks he would have.
“It’s difficult to say,” Alonso told GQ magazine. “We have different personalities and motivations. Lewis always did really well to stay focused and competitive in the periods of his life when he didn’t have a competitive package. Those periods weren’t many, but he was always performing to a high level.
“Now he’s not having the best car, Red Bull is dominating, but he’s still fighting always. He’s chasing [Sergio] Perez in P2 and he’s never giving up. It motivates all of us to see how Lewis keeps the motivation after winning so many titles.”
Alonso knows all about retirement having done so himself in 2017 but he said it was the challenge of coming back to F1 and being competitive again that encouraged him to return.
“I thought that was it,” he said. “I was not thinking to come back to Formula 1. I left a small door open, because of the new regulations and this new generation of ground-effect cars [which came in from 2022].
“It was maybe something that could be attractive one day in the future. While I was doing different series and projects, I was always looking at what Formula 1 was doing.
“Then, in the pandemic, I remember being at home and putting on the table what possibilities I had for the following year after finishing the World Endurance Championship.
“I thought that only Formula 1 was in good health. All the other categories had a lack of sponsors, most of the races were cancelled, whereas Formula 1 remained very strong even during the pandemic.
“So, I thought the next challenge could be the ultimate challenge: to come back to Formula 1 and try to be competitive again.”