Hamil­ton hailed a wor­thy cham­pion

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - SPORT -

FERNANDO Alonso has joined re­tire­ment-bound Felipe Massa in ac­claim­ing Lewis Hamil­ton as one of For­mula One’s great­est driv­ers fol­low­ing his fourth driv­ers’ world ti­tle tri­umph.

The two-time cham­pion, who was Hamil­ton’s team­mate at McLaren in 2007, told re­porters ahead of this week­end’s Brazil­ian Grand Prix that he ranked the 32-year-old Bri­ton above his peers.

“Lewis is one of the great­est driv­ers in our sport and he showed that, es­pe­cially in McLaren times, when they were strug­gling,” Alonso said.

“For ex­am­ple, in 2009, that car wasn’t very good and he was still win­ning races. Those kinds of per­for­mances put him at a very high level.

“The last three cham­pi­onships, ob­vi­ously, the Mercedes has been the dom­i­nant car, so they were a lit­tle bit eas­ier, but he de­serves the suc­cess that he is hav­ing now be­cause he showed that tal­ent many, many times.

“When he bat­tled with Nico Ros­berg, [he won] two cham­pi­onships he re­ally de­served. Last year Ros­berg de­served the cham­pi­onship prob­a­bly and this year Valt­teri [Bot­tas] was a lit­tle bit less com­pe­ti­tion, so he was a very well-de­served cham­pion.

“Def­i­nitely you need the car, but I think Lewis de­serves his suc­cess. He proved him­self with his ti­tles and his wins when he did not have the best car.”

Alonso’s pos­i­tive com­ments fol­lowed a sim­i­larly gen­er­ous as­sess­ment from Brazil­ian Massa, who said that Hamil­ton de­served his place along­side other il­lus­tri­ous mul­ti­ple cham­pi­ons like Ayr­ton Senna and Michael Schu­macher.

“He lacks noth­ing to Senna or Schu­macher, or any name in the his­tory of world mo­tor sport,” Massa, who will race in his fi­nal home Brazil­ian Grand Prix this week­end, said.

“He lacks noth­ing to them. He is un­doubt­edly one of the best driv­ers in F1 his­tory.”

Hamil­ton wrapped up his fourth driv­ers’ ti­tle at the Mex­i­can Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Mean­while, Massa in­sisted that his im­pend­ing re­tire­ment from For­mula One is for good, but he is de­jected by Brazil’s de­clin­ing sig­nif­i­cance in the sport.

Talk­ing to re­porters ahead of this week­end’s grand prix, Massa re­flected on his ca­reer, his 11 wins with Fer­rari, his nar­row miss in the 2008 world cham­pi­onship and the plight of his beloved Brazil, suf­fer­ing se­vere eco­nomic chal­lenges.

Next year, with­out Massa on the grid, Brazil is likely to be with­out a driver in For­mula One for the first time in five decades stretch­ing back to 1969.

It is a prospect that sad­dens Massa, whose pres­ence has been part of a lin­eage from Emer­son Fit­ti­paldi and Nel­son Pi­quet to Ayr­ton Senna and Rubens Bar­richello. – AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.