Despite a difficult race in Mexico, Lewis Hamilton cruised to an "easy" championship win in 2017. That is the view of Fernando Alonso, who put up a strong fight against the Briton's Mercedes on Sunday as Hamilton battled through the pack after a first lap puncture. "I think Lewis now knows how good the McLaren is in the corners," Spaniard Alonso said afterwards. "Hopefully I can race him more often next year," he added.
Earlier in 2017, Hamilton and his championship rival Sebastian Vettel were locked in a close fight, but the Ferrari driver's challenge collapsed in Asia. "It was very easy for him," said Alonso, referring to the new four-time world champion Hamilton. "He had no opponent. Last year he had to chase Nico (Rosberg) right until the last race, but now Mercedes secured the constructors' championship four races before the end and Hamilton is champion in the third to last race," he added. "That's too easy, but hopefully we can change that as McLaren-Renault," Alonso smiled.
German Vettel was visibly gutted as his championship challenge ended mathematically on Sunday, but he said Hamilton was "generally better" in 2017. But when asked if the Briton simply had a better car, he answered: "I don't like that question. I do not want to downplay in any way the success that he deserves," added Vettel.
Now, the pair are shaping up for another title battle in 2018, with Hamilton ruling out a Rosberg-like eleventh-hour decision to quit F1 as champion. "Obviously I could do the easy thing like Nico did which is just stop and retreat with these four title," said Hamilton. "But I think there's more in me, more to come, more of a challenge and harder times ahead and I like that, I love that," he added.
And as Max Verstappen's easy win on Sunday showed, Red Bull might also join the Mercedes versus Ferrari title battle in 2018. "I like a three-way fight and even McLaren with the Renault engine could be there as well," said Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. "Clearly Verstappen is a guy with a future and a very fast car." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing