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Fernando Alonso

Alonso pokes fun at Russell over Mercedes '$200m' F1 budget

With the budget cap set at $135 million, Alonso couldn't help but make a joke with Russell over Mercedes' margins.

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Two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso has jokingly suggested Lewis Hamilton's contract gives Mercedes a budget advantage.

The joke came after the Spaniard was interrupted by Hamilton's teammate George Russell during a press conference, with the Briton correcting Alonso over details within his response to a question about pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Asked whether Aston Martin's AMR24 was enough to take a step forward from last year's performance, Alonso replied: "It is difficult to tell, it is only testing and we have no idea what the others are doing.

"Even our programme is always in constant change depending on the time available. With these regulations, it is difficult to understand how we can have a day and a half for each driver to prepare for our championship.

"So it is like if in football and tennis, if you change the racquet or balls before a tournament or before a season and you make the players test one day before the grand slam.

"We are in a more sophisticated sport with $200 million budget per team per year and things like that, so it seems ridiculous..."

When interrupted by Russell, who pointed out the budget cap was set at only $135 million, Alonso chipped back about Lewis Hamilton's contract. With a smile, he said: "Yeah, but you have an expensive driver, so it is more than $200 million for Mercedes with your teammate."

Alonso reveals F1 'curiosity'

Alonso is F1's elder statesman as he embarks on his 21st season in the sport after making his debut his debut with Minardi in 2000.

Asked whether he gets the same buzz in preparing for a new campaign as he did the first, he answered: "It is different but I still love what I do.

"In a way, a new season always brings emotions and new opinions. You want to discover how a car behaves and how competitive you will be.

"It is difficult to overcome a deficit in F1 and not too difficult to keep an advantage if you start on the right foot.

"So always with that, there is curiosity."

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