Fernando Alonso says Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have had it “too easy” during 2017 and hopes McLaren can give the champion a harder time next season.
Hamilton wrapped up his fourth drivers’ championship at Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, securing the title with two races still to go this year. That win came a week after Mercedes defended the constructors’ crown in Austin, and Alonso – who fought with Hamilton in the closing laps in Mexico – hopes McLaren’s new partnership with Renault will allow him to make life harder for his former teammate.
“Amazing, fantastic,” Alonso said of Hamilton’s achievement. “It was too easy this year with no Nico [Rosberg], with no opponent, so hopefully next year McLaren can put on some pressure.
“It was very easy this year, no opponents. Last year he had Nico until the last race fighting in every single race. This year four races before the end Mercedes was constructors’ champions, three races before the end Hamilton was the drivers’ champion … next year McLaren-Renault will not be that easy for him.
“I think he knows [I’m still here]. He also knows how strong the McLaren car is in the corners, he saw that, so I think next year hopefully we can give a little bit of a harder time for him…. Hopefully McLaren-Renault will change this easy time for them.”
Reflecting on his own performance, Alonso believes a lack of top speed prevented him making further progress having started from 18th place and recovered to score a point in 10th.
“It was good. Overall we started last and we finished in the points, which is a good target for us. We had the speed all weekend – the car was feeling very nice, very good handing and a good balance throughout the race.
“We lacked a little bit of straight-line speed to attack or defend, so we were stuck behind the Sauber for half the race and then couldn’t pass [Kevin] Magnussen, and we were very vulnerable when we were in front of people. So in the end I couldn’t do anything to Lewis; we fought hard but that was the outcome.”