Fernando Alonso admits he didn’t think Lewis Hamilton was capable of matching or surpassing the kind of success numbers that Michael Schumacher posted during his time in the sport.
The two-time world champion and Hamilton were previously team-mates for one season at McLaren in 2007, when tensions rose as the younger driver emerged as a real talent.
Alonso claims he knew his younger partner was talented, but doubted he could reach the levels which he has done; recently claiming his sixth world championship in 2019.
“I think we all saw the talent in 2007 but it was difficult to imagine he would reach the numbers that Michael Schumacher had at that time, and to have such domination,” Alonso told Sky Sports at the Abu Dhabi GP.
“He’s done an amazing job, Mercedes as well.”
The Spaniard laid out some of his future plans, too, and hinted at a return to Formula 1 in 2021 when the new, revamped regulations are introduced into the sport.
“I’m doing Dakar in January which is obviously quite a big challenge. Next year, Indy is in the plan again, try to do a bit better than this year,” he revealed.
“Keep it open in the future, maybe Formula 1 in 2021, maybe Hypercar.
“I think in 2021 that’s the reason why I keep possibilities open, because of the new rules, so we’ll see what opportunities come up.
“I’ve been quite busy, I’m racing a lot. I didn’t miss F1 much because I kept myself busy.
“It’s a different kind of life (being away from F1). Formula 1 is very demanding. You leave for F1 for breakfast, dinner, to nighttime. Away from, F1 you’re more relaxed and enjoying life.”
Alonso also reserved praise for his compatriot, Carlos Sainz, who replaced him at McLaren and who claimed the first podium spot of his career in the last race in Brazil.
“Carlos did an amazing season, no mistakes,” he said.
“Very fast in qualifying. Delivering on Sundays. Lando [Norris] as well, in his rookie year.”
Hamilton is now just one title behind Schumacher in the all-time rankings list, with the German having won seven championships.