SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Lewis Hamilton has made the right move in leaving McLaren if he wants to win more Formula One titles, former team mate Fernando Alonso said on Thursday.
“I think it’s normal, it’s just steps on your career. I said when the rumours were there that for Lewis it’s a good thing to move on,” Ferrari’s championship leader told reporters at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Mercedes announced last week that Hamilton, the 2008 champion with McLaren, was joining them next season as replacement for Michael Schumacher.
Double world champion Alonso, who fell out with former McLaren boss Ron Dennis while partnering Hamilton at the team in the Briton’s stunning 2007 debut season, said other champions had benefited from just such a break.
“From McLaren, (Alain) Prost was going out, then it was me, now it’s Lewis. And normally for a better life. A good change,” said the Spaniard, whose relationship with McLaren disintegrated in 2007.
Alonso left after just one season, returning to Renault before moving on to Ferrari in 2010.
“McLaren is 14 years without winning the constructors’ championship - most of these years sometimes with the best car,” said Alonso, putting his finger on a McLaren sore point. “I am sure Lewis wants to win as well.”
McLaren last won the constructors’ championship in 1998 and Hamilton is their sole drivers’ champion since Mika Hakkinen in 1999. His current team mate Jenson Button won the 2009 title with Brawn GP, now Mercedes.
Alonso expects Hamilton and Mercedes to be competitive next season.
”I think so, I think he did great in McLaren. He won one world championship...he won races, he is considered one of the best drivers and next year I think he will enjoy more and be very competitive.
“From next year I think he is a clear contender for the championship with Mercedes. They are a top team and with Ross Brawn there and all the potential of a big company behind they are very strong.” (Editing by Ed Osmond)