Fernando Alonso has moved to downplay comments that he was too distracted by politics during the 2012 F1 season.
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko said recently that the fact that Alonso was 'too busy with politics and funny comments' had played a part in him missing out on the championship title to Sebastian Vettel – who came from behind to be crowned champion for the third successive season.
However, speaking at Ferrari's 'Wrooom' event, Alonso played down those comments and insisted that he hadn't been distracted by anything during his championship-challenging campaign.
“I don't think I am good at politics, I just drive the car,” he said. “Some recent remarks have surprised me, but I can't see the sense in them. Some say they don't read them, don't hear them and don't see them, before adding that they are not influenced by them: so clearly they do read them, maybe at night.”
Alonso also explained why he felt his strongest rival on the grid wasn't defending champion Vettel, and was in fact his former McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton – who he endured a fractious relationship with back in 2007 when the pair were teamed together at the Woking-based team.
The Spaniard also insisted that his viewpoint wasn't an attempt to take away from Vettel's run of success in recent years.
”Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest?” he said. “Because it's what I think, it's my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that. Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula 1, even in years like 2009, when he had started the season with a car that was two seconds off the quickest. When you look at what happens on track, you are well aware of what he is doing, that's a fact. Last year, Rosberg won in China, therefore I expect that this year, Lewis in a Mercedes can win more than one race.
“I did not say that Vettel was not the strongest or that he did not deserve his three titles. There have been periods, like in 2011, when his performance level was fantastic and he was definitely the best. As of today, it's impossible to say who will be our strongest rivals in 2013. Who will have the best car, who will have done the best job of preparation and had the best development, who will be the luckiest: there are so many factors which go to make the strongest combination of driver and team.”