Valtteri Bottas could have become a five-time Formula 1 world champion, according to Fernando Alonso.
Last year after a clash at Spa, two-time title winner Alonso called Lewis Hamilton an “idiot” who “only knows how to drive and start in first”.
Seven time world champion Hamilton responded: “It’s nice to know how he feels about me.”
Now, however, 41-year-old insists that when not in the heat of the moment, he has “a lot of respect” for his former McLaren teammate Hamilton.
“In our careers, we have rarely coincided in the same part of the track,” Alonso told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca at Baku.
“Maybe this year we find ourselves racing together a little more with similar cars. But yes, I still think he is one of the best in history.”
However, Alonso doesn’t shy away from his views about how Hamilton managed to amass his record-equalling feat of seven drivers’ world titles.
“At the same time, he has been lucky, or he has been known to be in a dominant car for many years. And when that happens, Schumacher won seven times, Lewis also seven, Verstappen is on his way to a third, I won two,” he said.
“To be champion, you need the best car,” Alonso insisted.
When asked what the situation would have been if different drivers had been at the wheel of different cars, he answered: “Another one for all of the drivers.
“If he had had a problem at Mercedes in those years, Bottas could have five titles. That’s how it works,” said the Aston Martin driver.
So far at Baku, Alonso has been playfully fending off rumours that following a split from his most recent girlfriend, he is now dating American pop star Taylor Swift.
“I think I’ve always been funny and ironic on the social networks with my followers,” he explained.
“It’s true that we now live in a different world with younger generations following F1 there now. And probably most drivers have a more political and professional profile in what they do.
“I say what I think at the moment that I feel it and in the way I feel it. I think it’s more authentic and people like it.”
So when asked seriously about the Taylor Swift rumours, Alonso answered: “I usually keep my personal and professional life apart.
“So I prefer not to comment on it.”