‘Fernando Alonso’s hidden message for Lewis Hamilton in Max Verstappen praise’

Oliver Harden
Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso congratulates Max Verstappen after the Red Bull star's record-equalling Dutch Grand Prix win.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso congratulates Max Verstappen after the Red Bull star's record-equalling Dutch Grand Prix win.

Fernando Alonso’s claim that Max Verstappen does not get the respect he deserves following the Dutch Grand Prix was very likely a sly dig at Lewis Hamilton.

That is the view of F1 analyst Peter Windsor, who believes Alonso remains bitter about his season-long stint as Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren in the stormy 2007 season.

Red Bull driver Verstappen equalled Sebastian Vettel’s 2013 record by registering his ninth consecutive victory at Zandvoort last weekend, with the two-time World Champion now triumphing in 36 of the last 57 races since the start of his maiden title-winning campaign in 2021.

Additional reporting by Sam Cooper

Fernando Alonso can’t resist Lewis Hamilton dig after Max Verstappen’s record-equalling win

Alonso emerged as Verstappen’s greatest threat in a rain-affected race in the Netherlands, finishing second to secure Aston Martin’s seventh podium in 13 races in 2023.

The Spaniard went on to tell media including Planet F1.com’s Sam Cooper that “it is underestimated sometimes what Max is achieving”, claiming it is “so complicated” to win in such a dominant manner in sport.

Alonso endured a challenging season alongside Hamilton, then a 22-year-old rookie, in 2007 as both McLaren drivers missed out on the title by a single point and the team were engulfed by recriminations of the infamous Spygate affair.

Hamilton has since gone on to become the most successful driver in the sport’s history – equalling Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Championships in 2020 before becoming the first man to surpass 100 pole positions and grand prix victories the following year – while Alonso remains trapped on the two titles he scooped with Renault in 2005/06 and has not won a race since May 2013.

Speaking via a recent YouTube stream, 1992 title-winning Williams team manager Windsor believes Alonso has never truly got over the events of 2007 – with his praise for Verstappen laced with a hidden message for Hamilton.

He said: “I think [Verstappen] gets the recognition he deserves because I’ve always said that he is one of the best racing drivers I’ve ever seen and I think he’s phenomenal in every respect – a phenomenon.

“That’s my world, that’s my field of perception. Beyond that, who’s out there saying that he’s not very good or he’s not very talented or he’s only in a good car or whatever? You wouldn’t be watching what was going on if you said that.

“Having said that, I suspect that in the back of Fernando’s mind still there’s a little bit of angst with Lewis and it’s just his way possibly of saying a little bit, ‘Oh, Max is much better than Lewis’, without actually saying that.

“That’s the sort of thing Fernando would do or say, bless him, so I suspect it’s more that than anything else.

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“Fernando, I think, is outwardly quite friendly with Lewis these days and vice versa – but if you get Fernando in a quiet moment he’ll still say: ‘When I retire, I’ll tell the real story of what happened at McLaren’ [and] things like that.

“And you think: Well, what is the real story of what happened at McLaren? What could it be other than Lewis did a very good job in 2007?

“We’ll see. I think there’s a little bit of both in that one.”

Alonso and Hamilton are locked in a tense battle to finish third in the Drivers’ standings in 2023, with the Aston Martin driver leading his Mercedes rival by 12 points ahead of this weekend’s Italian GP at Monza.

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