Fernando Alonso believes Lewis Hamilton's early-season results in an uncompetitive Mercedes demonstrate that drivers are "very important but not crucial" in F1.
Hamilton has found himself in the midfield pack after the sport's latest rules reset, with Mercedes falling behind Ferrari and Red Bull in the pecking order.
It comes after the team claimed seven out of eight Constructors' titles from 2014, with Hamilton racking up six Drivers' crowns – giving him a total of seven.
Drivers are "very important but not crucial" in F1
While he has no doubt that Hamilton is still driving at a high level amid Mercedes' slump, Alonso pointed to the importance of a competitive car when it comes to the record books.
"This is the nature of the sport," said Alonso in an interview with BBC Sport.
"Sometimes you have a better car, sometimes you have not such a good car and you still need to fight and make some progress.
"This year we see that the driver is very important in F1 but not crucial.
"Lewis is driving as good as he has been the last eight years. He was dominating the sport and breaking all the records and [claimed] 100-and-something pole positions.
"Now he is doing a mega lap - as he said in Australia or somewhere like that - and he is one second behind. So, yeah – welcome."
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Alonso: We tend to forget F1 is a team sport
Alonso, who won his world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, feels that teams do not get enough credit when championships are won.
"This is a team sport more than anything and we tend to forget this, especially when we have success," he continued.
"We are so happy for what we are achieving that even if we try to share with the team, all the headlines are for the driver.
"It happened to me when I won the two championships. I was beating Michael Schumacher. This was a big topic, but my car was more reliable at that time and had very good performance.
"You cannot praise enough that package because the headlines will still be the driver. And with Lewis it's the same."
Alonso added: "He deserves everything he's achieved in the past, but this year is a good reminder that in all those records and numbers there is a big part on what you have in your hands as a package in the car."
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