Double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has downplayed Sir Lewis Hamilton’s outstanding performance in last weekend’s Sao Paulo GP.
The seven-time World Champion was fastest in qualifying on Friday but he was relegated to the back of the grid due to a DRS irregularity.
In Saturday’s sprint, he worked his way up to P5 and started the grand prix on Sunday in tenth position, as he had to serve a five-place grid drop for running a new internal combustion engine.
Hamilton quickly carved his way through the field and hunted down race leader and Championship rival Max Verstappen for several laps, before eventually overtaking the Dutchman.
The Brit earned plenty of praise from pundits and fans for his stellar performance all weekend, but Alonso stressed the importance of the pace of Hamilton’s Mercedes, especially its straight-line speed, to his success in Brazil.
“As a driver, it’s like playing basketball and there’s one basket for you and one for the others,” said Alonso.
“They [Mercedes] score their points with a bigger basket and you have to score yours with a smaller one. So you always lose.
“I just imagine young children watching this sport and seeing one car pass two others in the straight line. We shouldn’t let them lose hope that they can be champions,” the Spaniard, who was Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren in 2007, added.
Meanwhile, Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc disagreed with Alonso’s assessment, saying he believes Hamilton outperformed his car in Sao Paulo.
“I don’t agree,” Leclerc said. “Obviously Lewis has a very strong car at the moment, but I think he managed to go beyond what that car could give.”
With just three races of the season remaining, Hamilton is just 14 points adrift of Verstappen in the Drivers’ Standings.
And, with Mercedes tipped to have the upper hand at the remaining circuits, Hamilton has a good chance of winning his eighth F1 crown this season.