Alonso: Hamilton is the strongest opponent on the grid 17 January, 2013 Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton swap helmets during the 2012 season Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso has tipped Lewis Hamilton to win races this season, despite his move from McLaren to Mercedes, and sees the Briton as more the man to watch than triple champion Sebastian Vettel. Speaking to reporters on Thursday at the Italian Formula One team’s ‘Wrooom’ media event at the Dolomites ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, the Spaniard singled out his former McLaren team mate as the strongest rival. “Who is the strongest opponent, the strongest driver on the grid? Who is the one you have to keep an eye on? It is Hamilton – and it will still be Hamilton next year,” he said. “I am sure he will be able to win. He is a super good driver because he won every year with any car. He won in 2007 and 2008. In 2009 they started around two seconds off the pace with the McLaren and Hamilton was able to win races. And it was the same in 2010.” Alonso pointed out that Germany’s Nico Rosberg won a race last year for Mercedes in a season when the car was largely uncompetitive. On that basis, he said Hamilton “will be able to win more than one race.” Hamilton made his Formula One debut alongside Alonso at McLaren in 2007 and ended the season as overall runner-up, ahead of the double champion although tied on points, with four victories and podium finishes in his first nine races. The Briton remains the only team mate to have beaten Alonso over the course of a season. The 28-year-old, champion in 2008, has said that he does not expect Mercedes to challenge for the championship this season and has also played down the chances of race wins before sweeping changes to the regulations in 2014. Alonso said it was too early to say who his main championship rival would be – with that depending on a range of factors including the car, team, testing and luck – and he recognised Vettel’s qualities at Red Bull. Vettel, at 25 the youngest triple champion, beat Alonso to last year’s title by three points after a final race in Brazil that could have gone either way. “For sure in these three years there were moments when he was better than anybody else and he deserved these three championships,” said the Ferrari driver. Alonso also replied to a suggestion from Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, in a recent interview, that he played political games while Vettel shut out all the chatter to focus on racing. “I simply drive cars,” he asserted, adding that Marko’s comments appeared ‘mixed up’ and ‘meaningless’. “They say that they did not listen and they did not speak. They were saying they were not being influenced by what we said, but it means they did listen or someone woke up at night and read the comments – because they had to calm down,” said Alonso. The Spaniard was optimistic about the coming season, which starts in Australia on March 17, after Ferrari began last year with a car that was well off the pace. “We can be faster or slower, but not 1.5 or two seconds off the pace. It is maybe impossible to be worse than last year, so I am confident,” he said. (Reuters) Subbed by AJN. Tweet Related NewsAlonso to use special helmet for final race as Ferrari driverRaikkonen: It will be nice to be with Vettel at FerrariAlonso: Today is not an easy one for meFerrari: With Sebastian we share a thirst for victoryFerrari: Fernando we offer our heartfelt thanksFerrari confirm Vettel to replace AlonsoFerrari denies making Vettel confirming tweetFerrari change Twitter profile to @ScuderiaFerrariLauda denies Hamilton interest in Ferrari driveWebber says Vettel switch to Ferrari is good Nowhereman Hmm, a confident Alonso is major danger to everyone else. He was not confident last year and lost by 3 points. I would say payback a bitch and Alonso is coming back with a vengence. Should be a great season. jl over confidence. He doesn’t learn. 2010,2012 he saw vettel as an easy oponent,… then BOOM,…Vettel beat him. Montezemolo warn him but he learn nothing, McLarenfan And the mind games continue, I love the Marko comment and he is right about Mark the mad. Mark this is hilarious… he didnt learn from last middle-season comments xDDD i wonder if someone has already told him hes making a fool of himself. Im waiting for the next couple days to hear “the car isnt fast enough, wind tunnel problems” but hey… what? season hasnt even started! Alonso you need to go to Oprah. elf Shameless halfwit individual, a title chasing cheater, what a sore mediocre loser… Jet Set How many times has Alonso stuck his head into Hamilton’s butt and vice versa. It’s getting BORING! We thoroughly know you both feel like you’re both from another planet…. Peter I think this is 4th time or 5th time Alonso stated this Message since Korea GP 2012 where Vettel took lead of WDC. don005 Alonso is making a good point. don005 @ elf…f he is a mediocre driver, he wouldn’t have finished 2nd in last year’s championship standings. patagrande Captions FA is thinking “I will use your lid as a toilet to defecate in my next camping trip” LH is thinking ” Thats OK I hid a little camera in it, and I will post pic of your little samurai on Tweeter hehehe” JR57 Alonso is a great driver – no doubt ! Unfortunately he is developing to be similar to what M. Schumacher used to be in his hey day i.e. giving all sorts of comments about his main rivals. Obviously trying affect their mind set. Why is he then giving such credit to Hamilton ? For two obvious reasons: 1.2007 as they both were driving for McLaren Hamilton had the better of Alonso => Alonso can’t exactly claim that Hamilton would be inferior to him concerning their driving abilities 2. Alonso reckons that Hamilton won’t be such a threath to him this season with the Mercedes as Vettel for example will be. Mind games unfortunately are part of competitive sports – personally I think that the drivers should focus on proving their abilities on the track. My compatriots M. Häkkinen and K. Räikkönen in this sense were/are good examples . Never talking thrash of their rivals /opponents but focusing on the task at hand. Joe Kinnear Stupid mind games. Fernando’s just trying to keep Sebs out of his head. Butterfly Man, he’s grinding Vettel, Marko, and Horner to a fine powder. Masterclass. elf @don005… Honest, I cannot stand this guy, need a puke bucket when see him. Just follow his twitter to see how ‘smart’ he is, absolutely ridicule. Or listen to his 3rd grade English, his intellectual abilities are modest. How somebody can like a guy that tried to blackmail McLaren when they stole Ferrari design, if McLaren did not give me status 1 driver. Or his win in Singapore by help of Nelson Piquet intentional accident, or his fists shown to Petrov for not managing to pass him, or his ‘engineered’ cars he won two titles by the same shameless Briatore who ‘mastered’ Singapore accident, or the gearbox in Austin Texas, or the ongoing pressure he puts on teams to get status 1 driver, or his ridicule politics the above one being one of them… or… Look to his body language, into his eyes, this guy is not an angel, his character really stinks. hawk mate, that is too much hate. I bet you have not yet recovered from the dehydration you suffered last season.. not with all that puking. Butterfly elf: Well, a driver has the right to demand no1 status within the team, especially one as good as Fernando. His English isn’t as good as yours because he’s a Spaniard, meaning his native language is Spanish, so that’s that. Regarding the McLaren affair, it was McLaren, not Fernando, that stole secrets from Ferrari. Just wanted to make sure you grasp that. If you really feel like puking when you see him, maybe you should have a psychiatrist take a look at that pretty little head of yours. That level of hate isn’t normal towards someone whom you’ve never met or had any contact with. He doesn’t even know you exist, mate. Live long and prosper. Junior Johnson Alonso is so great!Just look at how strong his arms are shaking Vettels small little ones!Vettel is probly saying to him I know I won but you are probly better than me! Anakin Don’t hate Alonso / Vettel / Hamilton. It’s all about the PRESS! How they deliver the story is wrong! jl if we know alonso we probably will not care him. Tell to press whatever he like, we’ll see if he still has some excusr when another driver beat him. Big talk, sore loser, that’s translate Fernando.