Multiple world champion Alain Prost has claimed that Lewis Hamilton's arrival in Formula One will not only be good for the image of the sport, but also for McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso, as it will make the Spaniard raise his game.

Speaking at a TAG Heuer book launch, Prost told Reuters that, like the rest of the F1 world, he had been 'absolutely surprised and impressed' by the impact Hamilton had had since his graduation as GP2 Series champion but insisted that, while he had sympathy for Alonso, he hoped the double world champion would take advantage of the challenge.

"Most of all, I think it is good for the sport, good for the team and good for everyone - even Alonso," Prost insisted, "He will learn from this and be harder and faster in the future."

However, while the Frenchman eulogised over Hamilton's instant success, he also admitted some sympathy for his team-mate, comparing Alonso's situation to those witnessed by himself - ironically also at McLaren - with Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna. Prost was the young pretender when signed to partner Lauda in 1983 and then had to battle the upstart Senna when the Brazilian was signed by Ron Dennis in 1988.

"You think you are the only son and then you find out that there is another one - and then you think that maybe they like him more than you," he reflected, "[But this]
is so different from past years. In the past, it has been about the racing or the technology, but this is about the human factor. It is all about the psychology. And, I must say, I know just how Alonso must be feeling.

"Usually, in this situation, the drivers are of different generations, but these two are separated by only two or three years. And both are new in the team. That makes it more difficult for Alonso. He wanted to go to McLaren because it was like a dream for him - he expected to feel like a number one - but now he is there he is finding he is not the only one in the family.

"When you have a young driver against one who has been winning, then the people, the media and everyone all support the new and young driver. That is how it is. I think it must be very difficult for him to motivate himself in this situation. Even if it is not true that the team favour Lewis in any way - and I am sure they do not - that does not stop Alonso having that feeling."



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