Fernando Alonso has suggested that Max Verstappen's F1 titles hold more value than Lewis Hamilton's due to the nature of the competition at the time.
Verstappen equalled Alonso's achievement of two back-to-back World Championships at the Japanese Grand Prix, while the Dutchman's victory at the race put him on an equal win tally of 32 with Alonso, though Verstappen has since surpassed that with his win in the United States.
Alonso has not shied away from praising the Red Bull driver, with the Spaniard recently backing Verstappen to potentially become the greatest F1 driver ever if he is able to remain in a good car, and he admits that he was a supporter of the 2022 World Champion from early on in his F1 career.
"There was a lot of criticism at the beginning that Verstappen already had a seat as a seventeen-year-old," Alonso told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
"I thought that was nonsense. We shouldn't judge drivers by their age. If they are doing better than others, why shouldn't they be allowed to race in Formula 1?
"I actually liked the fact that we had such a young driver on the grid."
Alonso hoping to battle with Verstappen more
In recent years, Alonso has not had many opportunities to battle with Verstappen on track.
However, ahead of his switch from Alpine to Aston Martin in 2023, the 41-year-old is hoping that that may still change.
"Actually, we have hardly fought each other," Alonso explained.
"That's very unfortunate. I want to fight with the best drivers and Max is part of that.
"I have been lucky enough to fight with Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher in the past, but I have never had that chance with Max.
"Hopefully that will still happen in the coming years when I drive for Aston Martin."
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Why Alonso views Hamilton's titles differently to Verstappen's
Alonso memorably raced alongside Hamilton at McLaren in the Briton's debut F1 season back in 2007, a year in which both drivers missed out on the World Championship by one point to Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton's debut title followed one year later, before he began a run of championship-winning years between 2014 and 2020, with Nico Rosberg's victory in 2016 being the only exception.
While Alonso continues to respect Hamilton's achievements, he believes that Verstappen's titles carry more value due to him facing competition from drivers other than his teammate.
"I have a lot of respect for Lewis, but still it is different when you win seven world titles when you only had to fight with your teammate," Alonso stated.
"Then I think a championship has less value than when you have fewer titles but have had to fight against other drivers with equal or even better material.
"In 2005 and 2006, I had a good start to the year myself and was able to create a lead. Then others might have had a better car, but I was able to manage that gap.
"I never had to fight with my teammate to win those titles. Nor did I see Max fighting with [Sergio] Perez or [Alex] Albon to win races.
"But Schumacher in particular fought with his teammate to become champion five times in a row and Hamilton fought with Rosberg and [Valtteri] Bottas. That's different, I think."
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