Fernando Alonso takes a swipe at Lewis Hamilton over driving errors

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Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, 2007, 470150

These days interviews with drivers tend to be the same recycled PR platitudes over and over. ‘The team did a great job’. ‘The car was really good’. ‘We’re looking forward to the next race’. ‘For sure’. It’s unusual to hear one of them slagging off their rivals as Fernando Alonso has with Lewis Hamilton today:

The errors don’t surprise me. The results that were strange were the nine podiums in his first nine races last year – that required some element of luck, and wasn’t all down to the driver. This year is more normal.

What surprises me is not that Alonso has had a go at Hamilton – both of them did plenty of that last year – what’s peculiar is the timing.

OK, it’s a long way from the days when Alan Jones responded to Carlos Reutemann’s urging that the two should “bury the hatchet” with the memorable retort: “Yeah. In your ****ing back, mate.”

But Alonso had plenty to say last year about how he thought McLaren were treating him. And Hamilton said plenty back about Alonso, insisting the team had “bent over backwards” to make him welcome.

As we now know Alonso was considering leaving McLaren as early as March last year, it may have been that the two never got on from the very beginning.

When Alonso left McLaren for Renault everyone wondered whether the rivalry between the two would continue this year but, for the most part, it hasn’t. The Renaults and McLarens have rarely been fighting over the same piece of track.

And even on the one occasion they did collide, at Bahrain when Hamilton went into the back of Alonso, the Renault driver passed up the opportunity to give his old nemesis a public dressing-down. So why take up the cudgels on behalf of Kimi Raikkonen and have a go at Hamilton now?

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to characterise this as a symptom of Alonso’s growing sense of frustration. He’s stuck in a car that can’t challenge for wins. He’s been at odds with his team over strategy in the last two races where they’re opted for conservatism over taking risks to win. He publicly criticised them after Montreal for not following his choice of tactics which he felt cost them a win.

If he hasn’t got the Ferrari contract for 2010 that many people reckon he has then he faces being stuck with Renault for a while – BMW seem content with Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, and he has burned his bridge with the other top three team, McLaren. So he’s lashing out at the man he feels is responsible for his dilemma.

Alternatively, maybe he just couldn’t resist kicking Hamilton when he’s down. And as the two are likely to meet on track at Magny-Cours this weekend as Hamilton tries to recover from his lowly starting position, he’s getting an early start on the mind games.

Either way, expect fireworks if these two happen across each other on Sunday…

More on the Lewis Hamilton-Fernando Alonso rivalry

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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44 comments on “Fernando Alonso takes a swipe at Lewis Hamilton over driving errors”

  1. I’m still interested in this time that Piquet set at Barcelona. There were rumours even at Montreal that Renault were bringing something in for Magny Cours/Silverstone surely they haven’t closed the gap already? And if they have could this be part of the mind games to wind up Lewis?

  2. Alonso has amazing skills to drive fast, but the public relations is one of his weak points.

    Anyway, in this days of “i love everyone”, “i love the team”, is good have some drivers who give some fun out of the track.

    And this year withot Montoya, and Sato I need a driver who gives “something” in and out the track.

  3. I imagine he was asked a leading question by a journo looking for a story and answered it honestly.

  4. I doubt Hamilton would have read Alonso’s comments.

    He’s the one with bigger problems, driving an uncompeitive car.

  5. i did laugh when alonso said that the 9 straight podiums where strange and down to luck.

    if that was luck then can hamilton do my lottery ticket this weekend!!

    it will only be in years to come when people realize how good hamilton was
    in his first year in f1 and i do not think that it will every be topped by any rookie driver.

  6. to be fair, anybody can’t say the first 9 podiums were because of Hamilton, and China and Brazil were because of bad luck.

    And Hamilton did 9 podiums because of his skills, because of the car, and because of the luck. As every other driver who did 9 podiums in a row.

  7. Now can we get Lewis to respond by taking a shot at Alonso and Renault? Keep it up Fernando!

  8. Well, I believe the timing was rather good! That’s because the last time when LH was back in unfamiliar teritory, that is not between front runners, on the first laps, he hit the back of FA. I see it as a heads up for LH.

  9. MacademiaNut
    18th June 2008, 4:44

    Can we say it’s all karma that for all you did last year, you don’t even have a chance of winning by being on an uncompetitive car?

    That’s stupid of Alonso to comment like this.

    I seriously hope that it’s the translation from spanish to english that’s causing this misunderstanding.

  10. The real thing is that the whining Alonzo should take care and do not say anything about our so beloved Hamilton-God, because he is on his way to 15 podiums in a row, as he made us know some time ago….

  11. Wow, sour grapes……..Alonso (despite 2 WC’s) just does not have the maturity or judgement to know that it is often better to say nothing at all.

    This is just another back-handed compliment to a kid that does not even have two full seasons of F1 under his belt.

    If there is weakness in the brilliant talent that is Alonso it seems to be that he can “out-psyche” himself.

  12. The best F1 fight we could ever be entertained with in the near future , IMHO , would be for Alonso to be in an equally competitive Renault to Hamilton’s McLaren , and I am holding fingers crossed that will happen. And to throw in the mix , that Ferrari and BMW will be there as well. That said , many people will not like Alonso’s comments too much , as Keith points out to “recycled PR Platitudes” etc. most drivers say what is perceived as being the “right thing” , I appreciate someone being a bit outspoken . Further to that , I’ve always felt McLaren used Alonso in a bad way. Whether it was planned to help springboard Lewis’ F1 career or not is another story for another day , but I cannot help imagining how alone Alonso felt at McLaren . Yet this year he is still driving a not so great car with great confidence , which for me shows more of his character as a driver than a few “mild” comments he makes. Imagine anyone being appointed in a high position , whopping big salary and all benefits etc., and at the same time , a young graduate without experience is placed alongside you , and starts to immediately be perceived as doing a better job ? I don’t deny Hamilton did not drive well and came out with all guns blazing , but reverting to my analogy above , any graduate directing an already successful corporation , alongside a successful director , would hardly be in a position to fail. I would like Alonso to stay at Renault and build the team up to a winning force , maybe something along the lines Schumacher did with Ferrari , even if not quite to such awful extremes.

  13. “If there is weakness in the brilliant talent that is Alonso it seems to be that he can “out-psyche” himself.”

    He’s probably one of the few who can talk the talk and still walk the walk in the same week, unlike our ‘hero’ here. Hamilton was exceptional during most of the last season, but we saw what happened to him under extreme pressure last year. He was leading the championship and managed to lose it because of his own doing. Compared to people like Hakkinen, Alonso, Schumacher or Raikkonen, he still has quite a long way to go. And I’d love to eat my words the day he wins his first championship.

    About Alonso, well, we need a character like him after Montoya left (someone who wins and can talk trash to his opponents).

  14. Alonso is probably the most complete driver there is at the moment, and he really is not one to have his views “tempered” by a PR team. (remember the pitlane-gate press conference in Hungary last year?)

    It’s more than likely Lewis’ attitude and that sense of entitlement with out of place arrogance that has got under Alonso’s skin since day one at McLaren.

    He has nothing to lose with making a comment like this – which are true – and there is every possiblity it will unsettle Lewis. The two of them could well be banging wheels together in Mangy Cours!

    And in the bigger scheme of things, it would be great if other drivers were to speak their minds more often…

  15. it would be great if other drivers were to speak their minds more often…

    I agree – it’s good to know they actually do have opinions about things. Some people gripe about Mark Webber having a lot to say but I think it’s good – I’d rather have a Webber in a press conference than a Raikkonen.

    But as ever, what I really want to hear from Alonso is his version of the events that transpired at McLaren last year, particularly at the Hungaroring.

  16. “for sure”, he has started playing mind games for the next race. Typical of Alonso with Hamilton.

  17. I think Hamilton is a good driver, but I also honestly think that the 9 podiums of Lewis last season were due to Alonso’s settings.
    To compare Alonso and Hamilton this year is impossible. McLaren car is good and the Renault is very difficult to drive: see Piquet results… this is just speculation, but probably with another car he would finish more races.
    By the way, I prefer Alonso saying exactly what he thinks than Hamilton talking about Sena…

  18. Surely this is another indication that Alonso knows that he is moving away from Renault in the near future?
    He commented in another interview that he was still considering his options at Renault for next year, which was either a hurry-up to his agent to get things sorted or a hint that he has already signed for another team.
    I think Alonso is taking a swipe at Hamilton, since he has an opportunity, and if he thinks the Renault may improve enough, and he would certainly be waiting for a chance to wave a Ferrari contract at Ron and Lewis after last year!

  19. DG , better than Alonso waving a Ferrari contract in Ron’s face , woud be Alonso waving the rear wing of his Renault at the front of Hamilton’s McLaren at the finish line. That’s something I am really looking forward to happen in F1 , hopefully not too far away from now.

  20. Here’s the original interview in Spanish. Can anyone translate any other interesting bits?

  21. I read it all, Keith. Unfortunately there are no more intersting bits then the already knowed. They say that Bernnie is the responsible for the F1 money (sponsors, Teams, and Fia) in a very repectfully way.

  22. Keith , basically , he speaks about three main things :
    1. The French / Spanish closeness & relationship and how he would love to do well in France as a result (I guess him being Spanish and the Renault French … makes sense)
    2. Comments about Hamilton , as you say above. I also pick up he is saying this year is more “normal” , relating to loss of TC – ie. more driver input necessary.
    3. The Mosley & Ecclestone matter and possible splitting of the FIA and FOM in future as a result

  23. Hamilton can´t say to have been talking slow these days, “nothing can stop us now, we have the better car by far”, “the rule of the red light is stupid” “I´m betting for a win in france” And i don´t think Alonso is talking nothing so amazing, every noob in the category makes some mistakes, so is extrange a a noob like hamilton fared so well from the beguinnig.

    I´ve looked at the interview and doesn´t says anything special. i´ll post some bits. Be sweet with my translation please.

    “Aunque llevamos pocas carreras, lo cierto es que no está siendo buena hasta ahora. Es peor de lo que esperábamos y estamos lejos del podio y de optar a victorias. Aún así no tiramos la toalla y estamos trabajando día y noche en el coche para mejorar”
    Although there has been few races to be honest they aren´t going well. It is worst than we expected, we are far from the podium and to expect victories. Even though we don´t give it away and we work night and day to get a better car

    “Arriesgar o no depende de la situación de carrera que haya. En Mónaco podía haber sido tercero o cuarto, pero por dos errores míos no lo conseguí. En Canadá tuve otro error y no pude acabar. Iba tercero, pero tenía que entrar en boxes en cuatro vueltas y hubiera salido, según las previsiones del equipo, séptimo u octavo. Prefiero arriesgar y no acabar que conformarme con eso”
    To risk ot not it depends on the situation of the race. In monaco i could have been 3 oor 4 but for my mistakes i couldn´t chieve it. In canada i had another mistake and i couldn´t finish. I was 3 but i had to box and i would have been 7 or 8 . I prefer to risk and not finish than to resing myself to that

    “Ahora no es el peor momento de la temporada. En Malasia fui octavo y en Bahrein noveno haciendo buenas carreras. Allí pensé que todo iba bastante mal. En Barcelona el coche mejoró y ahora podemos luchar por ser quintos o sextos. Estamos, claramente, en línea ascendente”
    Now it´s not the worst moment. IN malaysia i were 8, in bahrein 9 and doing good races. There i thought everything were really bad. In Barceona the car was better and now we can fight to be 5 or 6 we are clearly improving

    “No me sorprenden sus errores. Las que fueron extrañas fueron las primeras nueve carreras del año pasado con nueve podios. Todo le vino de cara y tuvo suerte. No todo depende del piloto. Este año es más normal”
    I´m not impressed by his mistakes (hamilton obviously)The really strange thing were the first nine races of last year. It all went good for him and he had a bit of luck. Everything does not depende on the driver, this year is more normal.

    I think these are the more interesting bits, the rest, he is looking for some points in france and a good race, they want to fare good at team home, blah blah

  24. Jean, as far as i´ve seen he doesn´t speak a word about loss of tc

  25. Thanks Brar, Jean and Ninguen!

  26. Well, it seems in the land where the deification of Lewis will continue forever (aka, the British Press), speaking against him runs the risk of being referred to as a Blasphemous Heretic.

    Firstly, I think if not luck, it wasn’t even Lewis’ own talent by itself that gave him 9 Podiums in a row. He had himself admitted to using Fernando’s settings during the first part of the season last year. Additionally, if you look at this year, using his own settings, his tire wear is too much. Missing inputs from Fernando I guess.

    And lastly, about Fernando being a whiner. If you were at the top of your game, and your claim to fame was the fact that you toppled the best in business for two years running, and then one of the best teams comes to you asking you to help them be the best in the business and vice versa. Then you realize that the new team is using your expertise to help its own in-grown talent to become the best in the game. How would you feel, regardless of whether they promised you preferential treatment or not? Slighted? I guess so.

  27. Ninguen , u r right , he does not say it , but that’s the thing I assume he means , as he refers to this year being more “normal” than last year. Loss of TC probably being the biggest change from last year ?

  28. mountain, mole hill. slow day?

  29. KEITH,

    I think that Fernando should take care of your car and of his team, shut up his mouth and just drive!

    To Brad Spurgeon his said:

    “The difference between the team in 2006 and nowadays is the lack of confidence.”

    In the next day he said:

    “We have a lot of work to do. I will take a decision on my future (stay or not in Renault!) towards the end of the year when we’ll be able to see how far we have come.”

    I think that is a weird way of how to motivate a “team spirit”. In any opportunity his shows how open he is to negotiate with any top team and leave his team insecure and unmotivated.

    In the last days he is speaking too much about anything but anybody seems to scrutiny his words as they did with Lewis.

    About his mistake in Canada his said: “instead of finish in 7º or 8º I prefer to take risks and crash.”
    His team needs points to feel confident, to gain more money, to invest in the new R29.

    He seems to be having more power, or think that have, in company than Mr. Ghosn or his Papa Flav.

    Fernando is a great driver, the best one on the grid, there’s no doubts about it, but he is feeling, and is expressing himself in a very omnipotent way.

  30. I think FA comment goes more on the way that is difficult for everyone to have a 9 win strike at the beging of the season. There are engine problems, there are heavy rains, cars which you don’t control can crash on your back, etc. This is the kind of luck FA is talking about. Of course LH is a heck of a driver, but a DNF would be normal even for WC, yet alone for noobs.

  31. Becken,

    it is disgusting how your comments change so dramatically when you post here (British blog) or in Spain (Briatore’s blog).

    Jean (and F1 Fanatic),

    what Fernando means with “normal” (although I am not sure either of translating this properly) is that the usual thing for a driver (especially for a rookie) is to make mistakes once in a while, even if you are a top driver in a top car (as we have plenty of cases this year); and that the unusual was what Lewis did last year (at the first half of two thirds of championship). I hope this clarifies the matter: for a Spaniard what he said in plain Spanish was not “a go” at all.

    I think this is the first time I post here despite I check your blog regularly: the depth and amount of information provided by you and many of the usual bloggers is overwhelming….I always wonder where do you take your time from for such a dedication! congratulations.

  32. I think its fair to say that Hamilton and Alonso were about equal when in the same car. So if Hamilton manages to get a few victories and Alonso is struggling to score, then yes, Hamilton was very lucky to start his career in a competitive car ( there was a lot of work to get there, but Mclaren could have had a down year- its lucky he started when they were competitive.)

    I think its great what Alonso said, there should be more little rivalries in F1, it would make the series more interesting “for sure”.

  33. Hi Juan,

    This is what I posted in Briatore´s BLOG:
    Becken // 16 Jun, 2008 – 11:14 pm
    Es muy interesante estas dos entrevistas de Fernando.
    En la primera, Spurgeon pregunta cuál es la diferencia del fin de 2006 para hoy y Fernando dijo que CONFIANZA. “La equipo hoy tiene menos CONFIANZA que en 2006.”

    El interesante é que Fernando no pierde una chance de dejar en duda su relación con la Renault para el futuro e dejar las puertas de la Ferrari abiertas e consecuentemente DESMOTIVAR su equipo…

    Yo no soy sicólogo, pero se esta es la mejor manera de MOTIVAR espiritualmente una equipo, dejando en duda se va a trabajar duro o no con ellos en el futuro, Fernando definitivamente es un genio en esto campo…


    (It is very interesting this two Fernando´s interviews.

    In the first one, Spurgeon questioned him about the difference between the team nowadays and in 2006: “The team has a lack of confidence comparing to 2006”, he said.

    Interestingly, Fernando never misses the chance to show some doubts about his future in Renault and leave the doors open in Ferrari and contribute to the “lack of confidence” of his team.

    I´m not a psychologist, but if this is a best way of how to MOTIVATE a team spirit, not reassuring that he will work hard with them, Fernando is definitely a genius in this field.


    Conceptualy there’s no difference between any post. In fact there’s much guys in Briatore´s BLOG at this moment that goes hard in Fernando´s words.

    If someone wants to read:


    (Sorry for that Keith, but the discussion in a Spanish forum could be interesting to show that Fernando´s fans at Spain have too much sense of critique than anyone think. They love Fernando, but know very well when his hero exceeds.)

  34. Comment to Jay: Remember 1996? A rookie won 4 races and finished second in the WDC. Name of Villeneuve. You had forgotten? I thought so. Lets wait a few years and see if it is appropriate to deify Lewis. BTW, JV won the WDC in 1997 and inspite of being Canadian, I would never consider him a top rank F1 driver.

  35. I wouldn´t dismiss so easy someone with one f1 championship under his belt. But he reached f1 after winning Indycar, not a piece of cake also.
    I think he was a driver that matured early and so he began his decline also early, there are some drivers that loses their touch somehow and they never recover, some for accidents, others the children, I don´t know, but there are a lot of people that did great things and somehow they ended being mediocre

  36. @ Becken

    No offense mate, just heard this bit in the radio message to the team right after crash:

    Now that can’t be Alonso’s error, though he did ran wide a couple of times and may have been referring to that, or making a comment about how he sees it fit to try and win it all, than to play it safe. Sometimes it doesn’t work out well, but hell.

  37. Hi Sri,

    Sorry, mate but Fernando admitted his mistake to CADENASER:

    “I’ve tried to change the line. You must to try different things to have a better grip in the reacceleration. I´ve touched the dirty part of the track and I missed it.”

    Fernando reassured that the mistake has nothing to do with the gearbox.


  38. Becken,

    you are a famous polemist in the other blog, and I am sure Keith does not want more of that here. I acknowledge that those points you mention were similar in both blogs, but that is not what I was refering to, but to my impression of the many times I have read you in (at least) a couple of British sites and the Spanish one I referred to. Normally (very) negative versus positive, respectively. But, as you mention, I am one of those Spaniards that know perfectly that Fernando made mistakes this and last year; yet, he is probably the best in the grid.

    Nice talking to you.

  39. You have to read some things right.
    He isn’t saying Lewis is bad and such.

    Translation: This is more normal, making (rookie?) mistakes and have some bad luck. That he had 9podiums in a row needed some luck aswell.

    why rookie with a ? … well mistakes are mistakes, even schumi made “rookie” mistakes late in his carreer…

    anyway don’t have to read to much into things.

  40. Juan,

    We are in a British blog, I´m from Brazil you are from Spain. When you say NEGATIVE, you mean in fact that I don’t adulate my friends from Spain, including my friend Manuel who runs the Briatore´s BLOG, talking just about the nice points in Fernando´s attitude.

    I always read in any place what the guys from Spain writes about Lewis or Felipe, whom has the bravado to challenge Fernando too. I just let it be. But nobody can say any true about Fernando in an articulate way that you said it is NEGATIVE and react as you did: “disgusting…”

    By the way I love Briatore´s BLOG and the people whose comments in it and already wrote a guest post there:


    You call me famous polemist, but anything that you said contrary to the conventional wisdom will became a POLEMIC or a NEGATIVE point in Fernando´s case.

    Obviously Keith needs more constructive comments in his BLOG, but I think that he praises the free opinion too. And in this case, sorry, man, but you must to accept the contrary opinion in the same way that I read things about Felipe or Lewis and accept it.


    (Keith, this is my last word about it, I promise!)

  41. Jackie Stewart said recently something similar to Alonso.

    It was something like: Hamilton has been driving in F1 for 15 months and it’s normal he makes mistakes.

    I think is the same idea

  42. What I do admire in Fernando Alonso, is that he will speak (or scapegoat) the team he’s in – now, even if he were in my team, and lets say it was a championship contender – that that leaves holes in my team that could potentially be filled. It’s a challenge, much as any other way in an F1 team.

    Yes, I can see the problems that what such a driver can say that will arise in public, but if you can instead address what his complaints, or moanings, are about and leave him nothing but to talk about himself (something I’m not entirely sure that McLaren did during his service, or some other McLaren drivers) then I always see room for improvement.

    I see drivers such as Coulthard, Raikonnen, Montoya as having done favours for McLaren by leaving, or forced to go elsewhere. It’s McLaren’s loss.

    And I think this is where McLaren falters – take away their subscription of both drivers are equal, the drivers have a squab instead – and it’s not like its been the first time its happened. I don’t think McLaren have that driver management down when you have to have 2 good drivers – clearly Ron Dennis can’t handle 2 competitive spirits at a time without forcing one driver into agony.

    Some say that Hamilton mirrors Senna, or tries to be (verbally and overtly), but I see more of Senna in Alonso, more on the track than off.

    All in all, I do NOT disagree with Alonso’s statement – but I do not agree with it entirely. What Hamilton done in his 1st season was nothing short of sensational, but I cannot help but think there was some element in luck of what he achieved [taking out the espionage fiasco]. His results, and “rookie errors” have shone through this season, when they really should have done this time last year.

    Hamilton’s not an interesting prospect, only in my opinion – he’s in a competitive team and car from the word “go”, he should have wrapped up the championship long before Brazil last year, I’m far more inclined to Kubica, Vettel, Bourdais, and Rosberg, who make far more interesting stories of having to build themselves rather than arrive at the podium off the cuff.

    In a way, I’m a lot more sceptical towards British press, media, and blogs (sorry Keith) because they generate so much hype, and prospectus, about their own drivers in F1 – and there’s always an excuse. Fernando IS NOT the model F1 champion – but then again, who IS? By singling Fernando Alonso against the British hope, Lewis Hamilton who has won nil F1 championships, is it any better than Alonso “taking swipes” at Lewis – at least he will say how he feels…something lacking the corporate modelled F1 driver of today.

    I’m probably of the old school frame of mind, but I see much more character, and championship deserverdness, in someone’s who’s had to build themselves all the way to the top – and has probably earned the right to arragoncy and self-indulgence (as much as I dislike those traits myself) as much as any other F1 champion.

    I really hope that Renault kick McLaren’s out of limelight this weekend. I don’t think it’ll happen, as McLaren will counter Renaults improvements (plus more), but this is why I keep watching. There’s always hope.

  43. @Loki:

    “Hamilton’s not an interesting prospect, only in my opinion – he’s in a competitive team and car from the word “go”, he should have wrapped up the championship long before Brazil last year”

    That’s by far the most stupid thing I have read, anywhere. First of all, there were 3 other drivers in cars better than McLaren (Ferrari were slightly better last year) or equal to it.

    What does it say about a 2 x WDC (Alonso) or “the fastest man in F1” (Kimi), when they can’t even get a susbstantial lead on Lewis with equal or better cars.

    Second of all, Kimi had it quite easy too. Got a drive at Sauber, got beaten by Heidfeld and still landed a McLaren seat. Where he failed to win anything. Though I don’t see anyone bitching about it.

    So before you start bashing Lewis for not winning anything yet, look at other drivers like Kimi who had a top drive for several years without winning a WDC.

  44. Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have logged on after a few drinks, it came off as a bit agressive – but I still stand by the same overall opinion.

    Internet, you pointed out Kimi as well – another man who I didn’t find much in until he actually won (and even then it was a combo through Hamiltons/McLarens shortcomings). I worded things badly in the first post, perhaps insinuating you have to be a World Champion or else you’re nothing (some made the point about JV, which goes well with this), but there are more interesting paths in other drivers (to me). Granted Hamilton’s the British hopeful, and has a wide fan base internationally too…I guess I’m just not a fan.

    In a less obvious way, having a two times Champion as your arch rival is a good thing – for Hamilton that can spur him on to beat Alonso (not hard at the moment), and he can take comfort in the knowledge that a double World Champion feels threatened by him. I think it’s a great rivalry to be watching, and I can’t wait until they’re both in similarly competitive cars again.

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