Ex-F1 driver spills the beans on ‘very special’ Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso

Ex-F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa was McLaren's test driver when Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were team-mates at the side.

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso’s relationship is certainly an odd one, given just how fierce their rivalry once was.

In 2007, McLaren had one of the most intriguing and exciting driver line-ups in their hands, with the best driver at the time partnering the newest.

Considering Alonso claimed the 2005 and 2006 World Championships, Hamilton was certainly up against it in his rookie season; however, the 37-year-old shocked the world and brought out a nasty side of the Spaniard.

Alonso famously held Hamilton up during qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix, with the pair having been in an intense title fight against each other and Kimi Raikkonen.

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Alonso, of course, left the team after one season, with Hamilton having gone on to claim the 2008 title.

Fast forward to the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; the duo were busy doing donuts together, to commemorate the end of another season.

Even this very season the duo clashed with one another both on and off the circuit, highlighting how much both drivers still rate their rivalry.

One-person, ex-F1 driver Pedro de la Rosa, got the chance to see both of them together at McLaren, after being the side’s test driver.

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The Spaniard labelled both drivers – who have nine World Championships between them – as “very special”,

“I still say they are special. From the guys I worked with, definitely very special,” De la Rosa said.

“Not every new driver that comes into Formula 1 is special. It’s difficult to detect because all the drivers that come into Formula 1 have probably been special at one point in Formula 2, Formula 3, whatever. But then the reality comes when you’re with these monsters (Hamilton and Alonso).”

What is it, though, that makes the pair so exciting?

De la Rosa hailed both drivers’ adaptability as one of the sources of their greatness, something which is difficult to argue with based on some of their individual performances over the years.

“It’s the fact every time you put on a new, or used, set of tyres, a good driver will need one lap and you think ‘okay, the next one I can brake here or there’…it’s too late, the track has changed, tyres have degraded, you have less fuel in the car, whatever,” said the Aston Martin ambassador.

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“The good driver just has this sense that the grip is there. It’s difficult to explain, but they know where the grip is without making too many mistakes because you can go over the limit.

“And then it starts raining, or you have front graining, or for example when the track is drying it’s incredible how these drivers know where the grip is and actually make the gap bigger to the rest of the field.

“But the problem is the next lap, or the next 10 seconds, the track is a bit different, so it’s difficult to judge from the outside because the track evolves more than the quality difference between them.”