Fernando Alonso says he ranks Michael Schumacher ahead of Lewis Hamilton on his list of Formula 1 greats, as the German was ‘harder to beat’ than the Briton.
A championship rival of both at different points in his career, Alonso was asked by Sport Bild to compare the two with Hamilton closing-in on Schumacher’s F1-record 91 career victories.
It’s difficult,” he admitted. “These are different eras and cars with different levels of performance.
“But I remember Michael as a driver who is hard to beat, one with the greatest talent. He had that little something.
“Lewis is very good and the best of his generation. But he didn’t win the world title with McLaren when he was a teammate of Jenson [Button].
“At Mercedes, Nico Rosberg also won the world championship. Michael never had such competition. He always won. For me, Michael is one step ahead.”
A two-time world champion himself, Alonso has spent the last 15 years chasing his third title, coming close twice in a five-year stint with Ferrari from 2010 to 2014.
Ironically the man who stood in the way of those titles, Sebastian Vettel, ended up replacing him at Ferrari, where he is set to finish a similarly frustrating spell at the end of the 2020 season.
And yet, while the German’s final season has been a particularly difficult one, Alonso feels he will look back on it favourably in the long run.
“Even if I didn’t win the F1 title [with Ferrari], it was a very positive experience for me. I think Sebastian will have fond memories of Ferrari too, even if he didn’t become world champion with them.
“We all come to Ferrari with a lot of anticipation. It is the most legendary team in Formula 1. It is special to drive for Ferrari.
“When you sign with Ferrari, you assume that you can win the world championship. After four titles, Vettel probably thought that he could get another with Ferrari.
“But sometimes you don’t get lucky when the moment is right, and opportunities slip by.
“I think we both lacked the right car and the technical capabilities at the right moment.
“That’s why in my career I tried not to concentrate only on Formula 1, and for example drove the Le Mans 24 Hours and tried to win everything that can be won.”