Fernando Alonso claims that neither Lewis Hamilton nor Max Verstappen are responsible for Mercedes and Red Bull’s Formula 1 success over the past decade.
Hamilton departed McLaren for Mercedes in 2013, having become disillusioned with the Woking side’s failure to sustain a title challenge beyond his 2008 title success.
Whilst he picked up a solitary win in his debut year with the Silver Arrows, the switch to V6 turbo-hybrid engines in 2014 ushered in a period of Mercedes dominance. The German marque managed to win seven consecutive double championships, with Hamilton adding six Drivers’ titles.
However, a small tweak to the floor regulations for 2021 to reduce rear downforce impacted Mercedes’ low-rake car concept, enabling Red Bull to challenge for regular race wins. Although Mercedes would secure an unprecedented eighth successive Constructors’ Championship, the Drivers’ crown switched hands to Verstappen.
Verstappen has won 27 of the 36 races to be held since the return to ground effect aerodynamics last year – including the last 10 in a row – to be on course to become a three-time consecutive F1 champion.
But Alonso believes the pair’s success has derived from being in “the right place at the right time” and capitalising on rule changes that favoured their respective teams.
“Hamilton and Verstappen didn’t make great teams. It was just a change in the regulations,” Alonso told The Telegraph.
“When Lewis went to Mercedes, he didn’t ‘build’ anything. It was just a change in the regulations that helped him.”
“And when Max joined Toro Rosso and Red Bull, Hamilton was still winning everything. He didn’t ‘build’ a winning Red Bull team. In 2021 it was very even between them, and now, with last year’s rule change, Red Bull wins every race so far this season.”
“Ultimately, you just need to be in the right place at the right time. So I don’t know exactly what we mean when we say you can ‘build’ teams around you.”
“This is a sport where technical decisions, technical regulations, inspiration from the design office or the wind tunnel make more of a difference than your input, your feedback, your personality or the way you drive,” he added.
After switching from Alpine to Aston Martin over the winter, Alonso has amassed seven podium finishes so far in 2023, including three second-place finishes.
However, the Spaniard’s attempts to end his protracted 10-year wait for his 33rd career F1 victory have been dented by the all-conquering Red Bull RB19 and Verstappen.