Fernando Alonso rates 2017's newly-crowned world champion Lewis Hamilton as one of Formula One's all-time greats.
Hamilton captured a fourth world championship at the Mexican Grand Prix, his third since joining Mercedes in 2013. Like Alonso, the man he partnered at McLaren in his rookie campaign in 2007, Hamilton is considered one of the best drivers of F1's modern era.
While Alonso has struggled since returning to McLaren in 2015 with its doomed Honda partnership, Hamilton's decision to end a life-long affiliation with the Woking team to join the Silver Arrow has led to a glut of pole positions and victories. Though Hamilton has had limited opposition for titles in that time Alonso says his performances before joining Mercedes show why he deserves all his current success.
"Lewis is one of the greatest drivers in our sport and he showed that, especially in McLaren times when they were struggling," Alonso said. "For example in 2009 that car wasn't very good and he was still winning races. Those kind of performances put him at a very high level.
"The last three championships obviously the Mercedes has been the dominant car so they were a little bit easier, but he deserves the success that he is having now because he showed that talent many, many times. When he battled with [Nico] Rosberg, two championships he really deserved. Last year Rosberg deserved the championship probably and this year Valtteri [Bottas] was a little bit less competition so he was a very well deserved champion.
"Definitely you need the car but I think Lewis deserves his success."
It's not the first time Alonso has praised his former rival this season. Ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix, when the Mercedes driver was on the brink of claiming the title, the Spaniard said the Englishman was a more worthy four-time world champion than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel -- who beat Alonso to titles in 2010 and 2012 -- as he has had "a better racing career".