De la Rosa: Hamilton / Alonso pairing was better than Senna / Prost


( – McLaren doesn't have the best memories of the Formula 1 season 2007. At that time, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton were probably the strongest drivers. But because there was tension internally, as a result of which Alonso had to leave the staff after only one season, the world title ultimately went to Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari.

Gary Paffett, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Pedro de la Rosa

© McLaren

Pedro de la Rosa was in the season 2007 Test pilot at McLaren Zoom Bag

At that time Pedro de la Rosa was a test pilot at McLaren and very close. He tells 'Beyond the Grid' that he was “surprised” at the time that the bid between Alonso and Hamilton escalated. “This driver pairing is perhaps the strongest ever,” explains the Spaniard. “Nothing against Senna or Cheers. They are my heroes forever,” he clarifies.

But Hamilton and Alonso are 2007 driven at an even higher level than Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost barely 20 years ago at McLaren. “On the track, they always had a lot of respect because they knew how good the other one was. Even if they never said that publicly, there was a lot of respect,” said de la Rosa looking back at the Hamilton / Alonso duel.

After Monaco it went down the drain

Both would have played their “games”, but never behaved unfairly “on the track”. “It was always a tough fight, but beautiful,” emphasizes the Spaniard. Unlike Prost and Senna, there was never a collision between Alonso and Hamilton. The fifth season race in Monaco was the trigger for the tensions at the time. Alonso won that before Hamilton.

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According to de la Rosa was Alonso's victory “beautiful and clean”. However, there was a lot of discussion afterwards because McLaren gave Hamilton instructions to stop attacking the then world champion in the final phase of the race. In this piece Hamilton was the faster pilot on the track, but de la Rosa explains that Alonso was only protecting the car.

“Lewis tried to win this race. And after the race everything went downhill because someone told Fernando that Lewis should have won the race, “explains de le Rosa. Alonso was not told that directly, but internally they “hinted” that Hamilton was faster. It was frustrating for the proud Alonso.

Alonso was “massively pissed off” by McLaren

“That's why Fernando was massively pissed off,” reports de la Rosa and explains that Alonso could have driven “two seconds per lap” faster in Monaco at that time if he had wanted to. But the staff would not have understood that. “That was the beginning of the end – unfortunately,” believes the Spaniard and explains: “[Alonso] has realized that they do not understand, develop into what he does and how artful he drives.”

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Alonso felt no more support in the staff, and the then rookie Hamilton was faster and faster. Ultimately, both McLaren pilots ended the season with 109 World Cup points – one point behind World Champion Raikkonen. 2008 Alonso returned to Renault. A pity for de la Rosa, because he believes that Alonso and Hamilton could have won “many championships” for McLaren.

The question of who was actually the faster driver incidentally, he does not want to answer. “They were both. They were two different pilots,” explains the meanwhile 49 – Year-old diplomatically and added: “Both were incredibly fast and talented. I think Lewis learned a lot from Fernando this year [2007].”

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