OK, the Mexican had zero time to prepare, and like most of us there will have been many names that he subsequently wished he’d remembered, but speaking in Austin, when asked to name his all-time top five F1 drivers, Fernando Alonso had no hesitation in naming his former teammate, Lewis Hamilton.
“Probably Michael, Fangio, Senna, Prost, Lewis, probably this will be the top five,” said the two-time champion when asked to name his top five, “probably, that come to my mind but it’s difficult to compare different times and different ways to win those championships.
“Lewis winning five now and being the same as Fangio, as I said before, it’s a great achievement and if one had to do that in our generation, I’m happy that it’s Lewis because he showed the talent and he showed the commitment. As I said before, when the car was dominating he delivers and won the championship. When the car was not good enough to win the championship, he still put in some performances to show his talent and that’s difficult to see in our days.”
The pair enjoyed a fractious relationship when teamed together at McLaren, but since going their separate ways, it is clear that the bad times have been put behind them.
Asked if, back in 2007, he had envisaged his teammate would go on to win five titles, Alonso replied: “Well, probably at that time it was difficult to image what the future could bring for Lewis, and for any of the guys on the grid. But yeah, definitely, he had showed the talent from day one, and fighting for the championship in his rookie year, winning in 2008. Probably at that time, we all agree that five or seven World Championships will be possible.
“Then, obviously, was a little bit down due to the performance of the car for a couple of years. And then, yeah, switching to Mercedes at that time, we all were thinking that maybe was not positive – because at that time Mercedes was struggling in 2013 – and things like that.
“So, it’s up and down, the feelings. I’m happy for him because he showed the talent from day one. He was able to win races when the car was there to win it but he was able to win races in some of the seasons when the car was not in the top of the form, like 2009 and things like that, he’s still winning a couple of grand prix a year. It’s impressive – and now it’s time to enjoy for him, so I’m happy.”