2009 world champion, Jenson Button, had a hilarious reply to Esteban Ocon after the Frenchman indicated that he is the second-best team-mate Fernando Alonso has had.
Ocon is the 13th team-mate Alonso has raced alongside in his decorated career, with the first being Tarso Marquez in 2001 with Minardi, who would go on to become Toro Rosso, and now AlphaTauri.
The 41-year-old partnered Jarno Trulli in 2003 and most of 2004, before spending a brief stint alongside 1997 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve, after the Italian was sacked by then Renault boss Flavio Briatore.
The double world champion won both his titles alongside Giancarlo Fisichella in 2005 and 2006, and he would move to McLaren for the 2007 season, partnering Sir Lewis Hamilton.
The British upstart won four races in his debut year, and ended the 2007 season level on points with Alonso, who also stood on the top step on four occasions.
Hamilton finished ahead on countback, but they would both lose out on the title to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by a single point.
Alonso dispatched Nelson Piquet, Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa, before comfortably beating Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2014.
The 32-time race winner returned to McLaren ahead of the 2015 campaign, replacing Kevin Magnussen despite an impressive debut year for the Dane in 2014.
Button would out-score Alonso that year, before the Spanish Samurai returned the favour a year later, and the Briton left the sport at the end of 2016.
He did make a one-off appearance at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2017, but it ended with him hitting Pascal Wehrlein at Portier, sending the German sideways into the barrier.
Alonso comfortably beat Stoffel Vandoorne at McLaren in 2017 and 2018, and a two-year sabbatical came to a close when he returned with Alpine, partnering Ocon.
The Frenchman has out-qualified his more experienced partner 17 times in the 38 races they have contested together, while Button beat the Spaniard on one-lap pace 13 times in 40 grand prix.
Statistically, Ocon has out-qualified Alonso around 12 percent more than Button did, although it is difficult to judge given the difference in cars, as well as the fact that all three of the drivers are at different stages of their careers now to what they were seven years ago.
The 25-year-old won the Hungarian Grand Prix last season, before playing a role in his team-mate’s podium finish in Qatar, and he, like Button, has competed exceptionally well against one of the great drivers of his generation in Alonso.
Ocon wants people to remember his win in 2021, as well as the fact that, in Spa in 2018, he qualified third behind Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
“I don’t read everything that is said about me, I hope that when I do something good it is reported as such, and that those watching can get an idea,” he told the Italian edition of Motorsport.com, before the Italian Grand Prix.
“But it’s true that there are some people who tell me ‘ah, I didn’t notice your qualification at Spa’, or ‘I forgot you won last year’.
“I admit I find it a bit strange, in the end in qualifying in the comparison with Fernando we are nine to seven for him, but I have a few more points in the classification.
“Last year, if we talk about qualifying, we finished the season tied 11 to 11. If I look at Fernando’s career, the only one of his team-mates who has been his equal is Lewis, all the others have not done better than me.
“Personally, I feel I’m doing a good job, and yes, it’s a bit strange sometimes to see that on the outside there are those who perceive it a bit differently.”
Upon hearing Ocon’s claim, Button cheekily tweeted, “I will have to disagree.”
Back in 2019, Alonso indicated that he saw Button as the best driver he had worked with in his career.
“For me, he’s probably the best team-mate I’ve had,” he said, per Sky Sports.
“He is very fast, he is very competitive inside the car, always and in all conditions, but outside the car as well he is a very nice guy, a true gentleman, and also very committed to the sport.
“As a package, I think he’s the best.”
Magnussen, who now drives for Haas, lauded the “admirable” qualities the British driver possessed as a team-mate.
“I do feel that Jenson has been very supportive ever since I started driving for McLaren and that’s quite nice and I guess quite rare that your team-mate is supportive,” he told F1i in 2015.
“He’s a tough competitor – massively – but also in the same way nice and supportive, and I think that’s quite rare and admirable.
“We still get on very well, so there’s no change in that. Obviously I try to help both Jenson and Fernando as much as I can and try to drive McLaren forward as much as I can.
“Obviously there are no miracles, but you try and do your bit and that’s what I’ve done.”