The two racing drivers both drove for McLaren in 2007 with Hamilton being new to the sport that year. Despite this, the 7-time world champion didn’t fail to make a mark with both drivers butting heads throughout the season, with them both finishing with 109 points by the end of the year. Alonso left McLaren to continue his efforts under Renault, but his career was never the same.
It must be said that the Spanish racing driver made some badly-timed moves, with his move from Ferrari to McLaren in 2015 being one of the most notable as this resulted in three poor years thanks to Honda power units.
Kovalainen blames these decisions on Hamilton:
“Since [Alonso’s] championship years with Renault he’s always made the wrong move and just sometimes I wonder if the trigger was the surprise of Hamilton’s speed,” Kovalainen told talkSPORT.
“If that is the core issue, then the falling out with [McLaren boss] Ron Dennis and with the team followed and there wasn’t any other place to go, Renault was kind of on a downward slope, he was just playing catch up after that and that never really recovered.”
Kovalainen was Hamilton’s teammate under McLaren in 2008 and 2009 and felt first hand what it was like to chase the talented driver:
“Occasionally I could match him but over the full season I had to stretch every session to match him.
“You can only do so much stretching and then you run out of energy and that was the case with me, I didn’t have enough margin in my capacity to do the times and the races that he did, so it was not easy.
“His level of performance is so high that even for super talents like Max [Verstappen] it requires a lot of effort, a lot of focus, a lot of energy, so it’s not going to be easy, not everyone can handle that, it’s as simple as that.”
Nico Rosberg was fast enough to beat Lewis Hamilton in 2016, but he retired later that year:
“I think Rosberg had to use all the tools from his toolbox to be able to beat Lewis and that nearly killed him,” Kovalainen told us.
“He said it himself, he couldn’t have done another season like that or he’d be dead.”