Hamilton won six of his seven F1 championships during an era of Mercedes excellence, but is now experiencing a car which cannot compete with the Red Bulls.

Sergio Perez won the F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix ahead of teammate Max Verstappen, while Hamilton was sixth and even Aston Martin’s Alonso - the star of the opening rounds - missed the podium by one place.

Lewis Hamilton VS Fernando Alonso - THE RIVALRY! | F1 2022

Alonso told Marca about Hamilton: “I have a lot of respect for him. After all, we have coincided little in our careers in the same place. 

“Maybe this year we find ourselves racing together and with similar cars, in this part of the year. 

“In Australia we were in a margin of two seconds the whole race and it was a very close fight. 

“But yes, I still think he is one of the best in history, but at the same time he has been lucky or to have known how to be in a dominant car for many years. 

“And when that happens, Michael Schumacher won seven titles, Lewis also seven, Verstappen is on his way to third, I won two. 

“To be champion you need the best car.”

Alonso was asked what might have happened to the F1 title if Mercedes had not been so dominant.

“Another one for us and for all the drivers,” he said. 

“If he had had any problems at Mercedes in those years, Bottas could have five titles. This is how it works.”

Alonso was Hamilton’s teammate during the young and talented Brit’s first-ever F1 season.

They finished level on points, behind only champion Kimi Raikkonen.

Alonso went on to claim his two championships with Renault but endured a barren spell at Ferrari.

Today, Alonso is the oldest driver on the grid (41) ahead of Hamilton (38) but has been reinvigorated by Aston Martin’s ascent.