By Philip Duncan, PA F1 Correspondent, Mexico City
Fernando Alonso has claimed Lewis Hamilton’s world championships are not as valuable as those won by Max Verstappen.
Hamilton shares the record of seven titles with Michael Schumacher, but speaking ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix, Alonso, 41, suggested both men owed their success to only having to beat their respective team-mates.
Alonso won consecutive championships in 2005 and 2006 with Renault – bringing Schumacher’s era of dominance to an end – while Verstappen saw off Hamilton in last season’s deeply contentious title fight.
The Dutchman followed that up by securing this season’s title with four rounds to spare in his superior Red Bull machinery.
Hamilton beat Ferrari’s Felipe Massa to win his maiden title in 2008 with McLaren. He also saw off Sebastian Vettel – in a Mercedes, which at times was not as strong as the German’s Ferrari – to win the 2017 and 2018 championships.
“I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but it is different when you win seven world titles and you only had to fight with your team-mate,” said Alonso in an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) October 24, 2022
“A championship has less value when you have fewer titles, but have had to fight against other drivers with equal or even better material.
“In 2005 and 2006, I had a good start to the year myself and was able to create a lead. Then others might have had a better car, but I was able to manage that gap.
“I never had to fight with my team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella to win those titles. Nor did I see Max fighting with Sergio Perez or Alex Albon to win races.
Please, all the titles are amazing, well deserved and inspiring. Incomparable to each other and let’s enjoy champions and legends of our current time. Tired of the continuous search for headlines . Let's enjoy them 💪.
— Fernando Alonso (@alo_oficial) October 29, 2022
“But Schumacher mainly fought with his team-mate Rubens Barrichello (at Ferrari) to become champion five times in a row, and Hamilton fought with Nico Rosberg and Valtteri Bottas (at Mercedes). That’s different.”
Earlier this season, Alonso called Hamilton an “idiot”, and said he only knows how to race from the front, following an opening-lap collision at the Belgian Grand Prix in August.
Later on Saturday, he attempted to row back from his latest swipe at Hamilton. On Twitter, he wrote: “Please, all the titles are amazing, well deserved and inspiring. Incomparable to each other. Let’s enjoy champions and legends of our current time.”
The two-time world champion, who has competed in more F1 races than any other driver, will leave Alpine at the end of the season to join Aston Martin.