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Lewis Hamilton Named His Toughest Ever Opponent

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Lewis Hamilton Named His Toughest Ever Opponent

Lewis Hamilton has snubbed rival Max Verstappen in naming his toughest opponent ever, despite the Red Bull Racing driver beating him to the world drivers' championship last season.

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Hamilton was cruelly beaten to the world title on the last lap of the last race of the season, back in December 2021, with Verstappen coming out on top for his first world title.

It wasn't the first time that Hamilton has lost the championship on the final race however, having done the same in 2007 to Kimi Raikkonen, and in 2016, to Nico Rosberg.

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However, it's actually not any of those three who the Mercedes driver thinks is his toughest opponent throughout his career so far.

Ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix, the British driver was asked who he considered the toughest man he's raced against, and he picked former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

"It is difficult to say who has been the strongest competitor because every time you are against someone you are in a different place in your life," the 37-year-old said.

"I remember being alongside Fernando when I was 22. I was so young mentally. There was pressure going up against a great like him.

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"And in terms of pure pace I would say Fernando [was the best]. We had good battles. I wish we could have some more."

Hamilton and Alonso did not get on well when they were teammates. Image: Alamy
Hamilton and Alonso did not get on well when they were teammates. Image: Alamy

Things were not always so cordial and respectful between the pair, as they got heated in Hamilton's rookie season in 2007 at McLaren.

Alonso also joined the team, having just won back-to-back drivers' titles with Renault, and was obviously expected to be the lead driver.

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However, the younger driver made the podium for the opening five races and, despite the Spaniard winning in Malaysia and Monaco, it was obvious there was a fight on the hands for the title.

Hamilton won his first grand prix in Canada, only his sixth race, then won the very next one in America and finished the season with four wins.

Alonso had the same record and they went into the final race of the season both able to still win the title, as well as Raikkonen in the Ferrari.

It was the Finn who came out on top, winning the race and the title, with the two McLarens finishing level on points behind him, before the issues within the team led to Alonso having his contract mutually terminated after just one year.

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Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton on the podium together. Image: Alamy
Raikkonen, Alonso and Hamilton on the podium together. Image: Alamy

How Hamilton would love the pace to lose the title on the last race of the season this year, with Mercedes cars have improved of late but it hasn't been a good start to 2022.

He's yet to win a race and is currently on a 12 race winless streak, the longest of his career to date, and he's had to contend with being lapped by Verstappen.

The rivalry hasn't got any less visceral even without the pair in direct competition, with Austrian fans cheering the seven time champion's crash during qualifying at the recent home race for Red Bull.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, Formula 1

Ryan Sidle
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