Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton have been the poster boys of F1 in recent years, having enjoyed considerable success in the sport and displayed a riveting rivalry in the process.
While most eyes are on them when it comes to the build up of any season, Sky Sports reporter Naomi Schiff believes the public is missing out on the real champion in terms of ability.
Schiff believes that Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso has superior skill than both Max and Lewis.
The Spanish driver found himself on the podium during the season opener, which was only his second finish inside the top-3 in the last nine years.
“When you say ‘if they all had equal equipment who would come out on top?’” Schiff said.
“Obviously, the equipment is not exactly the same between the teams we’re talking about and the drivers we’re talking about but this is the battle we want to see, who’s going to outsmart who on track.
“Max is one of those [top] drivers so is Lewis but I don’t know, as I’ve grown up, always looking up to Lewis and as much as I grew up on karting circuits with Max, knowing that Max would win everything, I think Fernando might just trump them in the sense that he’s so much more mature.
“He’s been in it for so long. I think even last year, we could see it in the Alpine and that there were moments that he was just extracting the absolute maximum out of their car. In an on track battle, he always gets the one up somehow, he just always knows exactly where to put his car.
“So in my ideal world, I’d love to see them all in one team and who comes out on top.”
Is Alonso the GOAT?
Alonso is the most experienced driver on the circuit, and Schiff believes he is worth debating when it comes to the all-time greats in motorsport.
“When you’re on track, it’s a lot about demeanour and body language,” she said.
“And there are some drivers that you’ll have a clean battle with, there are some drivers you need to worry about and some drivers you need to be scared off.
“I think Fernando is definitely one of those drivers that you have to give a lot of respect to.
“He’s the kind of the guy that you wouldn’t want to play chess with, because he’s always three steps ahead, and that’s just in everything he’s thinking about when he’s in the car.
“He knows where to put his car, he knows exactly where to make the moves, he knows exactly how to defend. I mean, to be fair, he’s spent over two decades in the sport so he’s collected an insane amount of experience, which obviously, is the most important thing, as time trumps everything else.
“But you know, he’s also just a very special driver. And I think every now and again, you get these kinds of drivers in all sorts of categories that just really stand out. And Fernando is most certainly one of those. So I just like to say I wouldn’t want to see Fernando coming up in my mirrors.”
Chandhok supports Schiff in Alonso praise
Schiff was supported in her argument by fellow Sky Sports reporter Karun Chandhok, who felt that the key to Alonso’s success was his pure love for racing.
“This is a guy who just loves racing,” Chandhok said.
“He loves driving. On days off, he’s at his own go-kart track driving around with the 15 year old kids in his academy.
“That’s what he gets a buzz out of day in, day out. Fernando is not someone who goes home to his wife and kids and has a quiet life in Switzerland. This is a guy who thrives on being in a race car.”
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