Formula One folklore is written in many different ways. Of course there are the history books which list the record achievements of drivers and teams, though even these are regularly debated in a heated fashion when fans attempt to argue who is the greatest of all time.
Having resigned Lewis Hamilton for another two years, Toto Wolff claimed at the recent Italian Grand Prix that his star driver was “the greatest” and when asked if Lewis was losing his powers the Mercedes boss was adamant:
Hamilton “the best..ever”
“I don’t think it’s like [he is in decline]. He is the best that has ever been.”
Yet Formula One has many heroes of yesteryear who achieved in motorsport things Hamilton can only dream of. John Surtees is the only driver to win a the world championship on both two and four wheels.
Graham Hill is the only driver to ever complete the motorsport triple crown, winning the Indy500, Le Mans and the F1 drivers’ title.
Michael Schumacher was to raise the bar in terms of F1 dominance becoming the first driver to win 7 world championships and his time at Ferrari is legendary amongst the tifosi.
Hamilton “didn’t build anything”
The German driver has been lauded many times for “building Ferrari” from the also ran team who had won little for almost two decades into the dominant force they were around the turn of the millennium.
Lewis Hamilton who has matched Schumacher’s record of titles has also been acclaimed for “building Mercedes” into the record eight consecutive constructor champions. However Fernando Alonso this week issued a scathing opinion on this folklore claiming the impact Hamilton has had on Mercedes is very much over exaggerated.
“I think this is something that is always said about drivers ‘building’ teams,” the Spaniard told the Telegraph.
“But when Lewis went to Mercedes, he didn’t ‘build’ anything. It was just a change in regulations that built everything for him.”
Hamilton/Alonso bad blood
Of course Fernando and Lewis were team mates at McLaren in the British driver’s rookie F1 season. Alonso was the reigning double world champion at the time but the season didn’t pan out the way McLaren had hoped.
The Woking based team were racked with infighting between both sides of the garage and Hamilton fanned the flames in Hungary when he blocked Alonso during qualifying.
Fernando then sat in the McLaren pit box after being fitted for fresh tyres for his final run for pole preventing Hamilton to come in and take on fresh rubber too.
Yet this isn’t a reopening of the old wounds by Alonso as he points out the recent rule changes have now favoured Red Bull Racing.
Red Bull “win every race”
“And when Max joined Toro Rosso and Red Bull it was still Hamilton winning everything,” he added.
“He didn’t ‘build’ a winning Red Bull team. In 2021 it was very close between them (Verstappen and Hamilton), and now with the change in regulations last year, Red Bull win every race so far this season,” Fernando observed.
“So I don’t know exactly what we mean when we say you can ‘build’ teams around you. Because I think this is a sport where, you know, technical decisions, technical regulations, inspiration from the design office or wind tunnel or something like that normally makes more difference than your input, your feedback, your personality, or your way of driving.”
Hamilton was on the attack last time out in Monza when he claimed he didn’t think Max Verstappen was “special.”
Mercedes set to frustrate Red Bull ambitions
Hamilton dismissive Max’s achievement
Max completed the historic 10th consecutive F1 victory eclipsing a record held by Ascari and Vettel yet Hamilton stated:
“In my personal opinion, all my team-mates have been stronger than the team-mates Max has had: Jenson [Button], Fernando [Alonso], George [Russell], Valtteri [Bottas], Nico [Rosberg]. I’ve had so many. These guys have all been very, very strong, very consistent – and Max has not raced against anyone like that.”
In an attempt to diminish Verstappen’s dominance Hamilton also claimed, “If I was in Sergio’s car… Max would not be having the same time he’s having now.”
Some fans reacted angrily to Hamilton’s words, one stating “crying must now be his full time job.” Another supported Hamilton’s right to his opinion but said “don’t be surprised if you get booed.”
Hamilton grumpy after poor Monza
Alonso like Verstappen is dominating his team mate to the point of embarrassment. Had Lance Stroll scored a similar percentage of points to Fernando that the second Mercedes and Ferrari drivers have achieved, Aston Martin would be second in the constructor’s race.
Yet the Spaniard has been supportive of his team mate despite his obvious failings.
Hamilton has regained some of his lost form this year as in 2022 he was beaten easily by his new team mate. Yet despite signing a two year new contract with Mercedes, Lewis demeanour in Monza was not one who was happy with the result of the prolonged negotiations.
He was out of sorts throughout the weekend, losing out in practice, qualifying and the race to Russell, though he later revealed he had “gone the wrong way” on setup during the Friday sessions and so was playing “catchup” for the rest of the weekend.
Hamilton and Mercedes may be under pressure again this weekend as the resurgent Ferrari are hoping to close down the gap in the constructors’ title race. Aston Martin too may return to form in Singapore given the twisty nature of the circuit layout and so points will not be easy to come by for the Mercedes’ pair.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 13, 2023