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Alonso names Hamilton strongest rival

ESPN Staff
January 17, 2013 « Massa sure Alonso would back title bid | Alonso distances himself from politics »
Fernando Alonso: "Lewis [Hamilton] has always won races ever since he has been in Formula One" © Ferrari
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Fernando Alonso has named Lewis Hamilton as his strongest rival in Formula One and expects him to "win more than one race" for Mercedes this year.

Hamilton's switch to Mercedes from McLaren raised a few eyebrows last season as Mercedes struggled to fifth in the constructors' championship. However, Alonso said that his 2007 McLaren team-mate is his strongest rival and that Nico Rosberg's victory in China last season leads him to believe Hamilton will win races in 2013.

"Why do I say Hamilton is the strongest? Because it's what I think, it's my personal opinion and there is nothing political in that," Alonso said. "Lewis has always won races ever since he has been in Formula One, 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."

Alonso clarified that his comments didn't mean Hamilton would be his main title rival, however, and praised Sebastian Vettel for his recent dominance.

"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."