Fernando Alonso has fond memories of his duels with Michael Schumacher, whom he defeated in 2006. The man from Oviedo would have liked to fight some nice duels with men from the next generation, but with Lewis Hamilton that never really happened. Asked which drivers besides Schumacher brought out the best in him, Alonso initially thinks of Hamilton.
“Of course the champions of my generation, with Lewis I didn’t have the competition I hoped for,” Alonso told F1 podcast Beyond the Grid. “In 2007 we rode together in a team and for the general public that is the biggest fight you can have. But that year neither of us were ready. He wasn’t because he was a rookie, it was his freshman year. And I wasn’t performing at my best because I wasn’t integrated into the team yet. Of course we had a few fights together and we had the stress of fighting for the championship. But it wasn’t really well managed by the team. That season we ended [achter wereldkampioen Kimi Raikkonen] on an equal number of points. It was a fair fight. We both could have done better.”
After that, the two never really met again and the performance differences between their cars were often too big to really talk about a serious battle. “In the years that followed I had a better package at Ferrari, when he was still at McLaren. We didn’t really fight back then. After his move to Mercedes he has always had a better package than me and we never had the chance to fight again. That is a loss in his career. But of course he subsequently became a Formula 1 legend. Like Michael, he can push you to the limit. If you want to beat him, you have to perform at your very best.”
Sebastian Vettel is another driver that Alonso would have liked to compete with more often. The German was dominant with Red Bull at the beginning of the previous decade, Alonso could not match him at that time. “We didn’t have the same package, but we did compete a few times until the last race. In those championships in 2010 and 2012, I had to be at my best to keep up with the superior Red Bull package. They had a few problems and also races where they didn’t finish and we were able to fight for the championship because of that. We had to perform at the maximum every weekend to keep up with them at all.”