Lewis Hamilton didn’t “build” Mercedes, neither did Max Verstappen create a winning Red Bull team, rather they benefitted from the timing of regulation changes, says Fernando Alonso.
Joining Mercedes in 2013 after his 2008 title with McLaren, Hamilton won the first of his six Drivers’ Championships with the Brackley squad the following season, that year marking F1’s first year powered by hybrid turbocharged V6 engines.
Mercedes would go on to win seven Drivers’ titles in as many years, and eight Constructors’ from 2014 to 2021.
Fernando Alonso: A change in regulations built everything for him
In that last year Hamilton was dethroned as World Champion, losing the title to Verstappen in a thriller that ran from the first race of the season through to the very last lap of the championship.
Verstappen added a second title in 2022 and is well on his way to a third this season with Red Bull and their Adrian Newey-designed cars dominating in the new ground-effect aerodynamic era.
Like Hamilton before him, Alonso says this is not a case of either driver “building” a winning team, rather lucked into being in the right car at the right time under regulations that have played to the team’s strength.
“I think this is something that is always said about drivers ‘building’ teams,” he told The Telegraph, “but when Lewis went to Mercedes [in 2013], he didn’t ‘build’ anything. It was just a change in regulations [in 2014] that built everything for him.
“And when Max joined Toro Rosso and Red Bull it was still Hamilton winning everything. He didn’t ‘build’ a winning Red Bull team. In 2021 it was very close between them, and now with the change in regulations last year, Red Bull win every race so far this season.
“So I don’t know exactly what we mean when we say you can ‘build’ teams around you because I think this is a sport where, you know, technical decisions, technical regulations, inspiration from the design office or wind tunnel or something like that normally makes more difference than your input, your feedback, your personality, or your way of driving.”
The Aston Martin driver added: “Ultimately, you just need to be in the right place at the right moment.”
This season Alonso continues to chase his 33rd race win, the Spaniard having last taken to the top step of the podium back in 2013 with Ferrari.
That season he finished runner-up to Sebastian Vettel for the third time in four seasons, leaving Alonso stuck on two World Championship titles.
He wouldn’t mind adding a third, ideally as a driver, although playing a role in Aston Martin’s winning even when he’s retired from racing would give him “satisfaction”.
“I know I don’t have forever, but as long as there’s a one percent chance of winning the title again, I’ll keep going,” Alonso told Marca.
“If it doesn’t work out as a driver, maybe it will work out in a role outside the car. If I then win the World Championship, that would also give me satisfaction, because then I could say I helped build it.”
Alonso will remain with Aston Martin next season, his second year on his contract, with the 42-year-old not ruling out extending his stay.