Lewis Hamilton hails Fernando Alonso as 'mind games' give Ferrari a hurry up

Ferrari team break overnight curfew to bolt on new parts

By Pete Gill.   Last Updated: 02/11/12 5:39pm

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Lewis Hamilton has paid another glowing tribute to Fernando Alonso and acknowledged that the Spaniard's World Championship tilt has been built on the sort of consistency that he himself couldn't sustain this season.

Ex-team-mates, it seems, make for the best of enemies. Since Alonso and Hamilton's divorce after a solitary and turbulent year together at McLaren in 2007, mutual destruction has been replaced with mutual admiration.

The Englishman has been particularly fulsome in recent weeks about his former foe, hailing Alonso as not only a "deserving champion" but a "three or four times World Champion."

It's a description which could yet come to pass sooner rather than later, however. Although the odds are stacked firmly in Sebastian Vettel's favour to win his own third title in a RB8 car universally accepted to be superior to Alonso's F2012, Ferrari's brilliant Spaniard remains within thirteen points of the summit and steadfast in his belief that he will beat Vettel to become the youngest three-times World Champion in the sport's history.

If so, with Alonso's last victory occurring as long ago as July, it would be a triumph built on the sort of metronome-like consistency that Hamilton identified at the start of the year as being the prerequisite for his own challenge but, largely through no fault of his own, unable to maintain.

"Fernando didn't have a great car at the start of the year and he still managed to score some great, great points. He's been massively consistent. That was the consistency I wanted to get, but he toppled mine and just kept on going," Hamilton told Sky Sports News.

"He got taken out in Belgium but his team just haven't messed up at all this year and I think they are the most deserving.

"Sebastian has been fairly consistent this year. The team and Adrian [Newey] have done an amazing job in the last half season."

Note, in contrast to his remarks about Alonso, the faint praise for the World Championship leader. It is a curious thing but rather than garner credit, Vettel's faultless dominance of the last month, headlined by four successive victories, has only seemingly served to focus attention on the work of Adrian Newey, Red Bull's peerless designer.

In the wake of Vettel's lights-to-flags victory at the Indian GP, Hamilton called Newey a "genius", while Alonso himself caused a stir when he opined that "I am not, or we are not, only fighting Sebastian, we are fighting Newey."

Fair comment or mind games designed to unsettle Vettel? The latter, according to Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson.

"You have to try anything you can to out-psyche your competition," noted the former Super Aguri driver during commentary of Practice One at Abu Dhabi. "Alonso is a wily old fox and he knows how to play the game - on and off the track. What he's saying is 'look, you've got a better car than me buddy, and that's the only reason you are beating me.'"

Amid reports in the Italian press that Fernando had been enraged by comments made by Technical Director Pat Fry in India, Alonso's comments could also have been interpreted as a message of urgency to the Ferrari team.

If so, the missive seem to have had the intended effect. For the first time this season, the Ferrari team broke the overnight curfew on Thursday in Abu Dhabi as they bolted on a raft of new pieces onto Alonso's F2012.

Whether they will be sufficient to turn the title tide back in his favour remains to be seen.

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