In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Alonso was quoted as stating that a championship is “different when you only had to fight with your teammate”

The Spaniard appeared to suggest he valued Max Verstappen’s two world titles higher than Hamilton’s seven. 

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“I think a championship has less value than when you have fewer titles but have had to fight against other drivers with equal or even better material,” he added. 

Hamilton responded by posting a cryptic message of a thumbs up symbol with a picture from 2007 showing him on the top step of the podium and Alonso in second. 

The Briton finished ahead of Alonso in the world championship when the pair were teammates at McLaren during Hamilton’s rookie F1 season. 

Asked for his opinion after finishing second behind Verstappen in Sunday's Mexico City Grand Prix, a smiling Hamilton said: “I gave you it. That's my thumbs up. 

"I don't really have a lot to say about it, it does make me giggle a little bit to be honest. 

“But I have tried to be really respectful over the years and for example, when you've ever asked me about who has been the better driver for me, I've always tried to give praise. 

"It's definitely interesting to see the comments that are made, but it doesn't really matter. So that's why I just gave the thumbs up.” 

Two-time world champion Alonso took to Twitter to clarify his comments after his quotes were picked up by other media outlets. 

The Alpine driver wrote: “And again… Please, all the titles are amazing, well deserved and inspiring. Incomparable to each other and let’s enjoy champions and legends of our current time.

“Tired of the continuous search for headlines. Let's enjoy them.”