Lewis Hamilton will win races in 2013 - Fernando Alonso

By Andrew Benson & Jonathan LegardBBC Sport
Fernando Alonso happy with Ferrari progress for new season

Fernando Alonso believes Lewis Hamilton will win races in 2013, despite his move to Mercedes.

Mercedes won once last year but ended the season struggling to score points.

But Alonso said: "I am sure he will be able to win. Mercedes already won last year with Nico [Rosberg] and Lewis has been winning races with all cars.

"Even in 2009 with a car that was two seconds off the pace, they ended the year winning. Lewis will be able to win with Mercedes as well."

Alonso said he believed Hamilton, who was his team-mate at McLaren in 2007, was the best driver in Formula 1, despite Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel winning the last three titles in a row.

"Who is [the] strongest driver? My answer is Hamilton," he said. "It was true last year, it was true this year.

"The strongest driver? It is a personal opinion, not political, not to make people think something. Who is the strongest opponent, the strongest driver on grid? Who is the one you have to keep an eye on? It is Hamilton - and it will still be Hamilton next year."

Asked why he had not mentioned Vettel, he said: "I am not saying he is not the strongest driver.

"In 2011, there was a fantastic performance from him. It is true the car was much in front of everybody, they [Red Bull] were first and second consistently, and when the car is good you tend to relax in some races.

"But I remember difficult races in 2011 with wet/dry conditions, and he did not do any single mistake. So for sure in these three years there were moments when he was better than anybody else and he deserved these three championships."

Alonso said he would have no problem having Vettel as a team-mate if the German was to join Ferrari alongside him in the future.

"I would enjoy as I am enjoying with Felipe," Alonso said. "I enjoy with all the team-mates I had.

"I had a fantastic time with all if them, good fights and constantly learning, because every driver does different philosophies and you improve yourself as well.

"If a new driver comes in it will be fantastic battle, fantastic for the team and good performance. If Felipe keeps racing it will also be very good and we keep helping Ferrari which is the main goal."

Alonso narrowly lost the championship to Vettel last year despite starting the year with a car that was more than a second off the pace. He said he was hopeful Ferrari would start this season more strongly.

"I am confident," he said. "We are Ferrari so we should be able to do a good job and I think we made some important steps in the organisation in aerodynamics that we knew we were not very strong in the past. We made a few changes.

"Hopefully they [will] work and we are competitive enough to fight for the podiums, for the wins and pole positions which last year we were not able to do so."

He said he expected Massa to retain into the start of this season the strong form with which he ended 2012 and said he would help the Brazilian if Massa ended up in title contention and Alonso did not.

Alonso also dismissed criticism from Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko that he was too "political" last season and that this had affected his title challenge.

Alonso said: "I was surprised by those statements, but I think they were simply statements a bit mixed up, a bit meaningless.

"They say that they did not listen and they did not speak. They were saying they were not being influenced by what we said, but it means they did listen or someone woke up at night and read the comments - because they had to calm down.

"They [Marko's comments] were a bit mixed up, without any real control. So I do not think we should pay too much attention to those statements."

Top Stories