|© AP Photo/Jens Meyer
Lewis Hamilton has picked out his old rival Fernando Alonso as the man to beat rather than his former team McLaren and teammate Jenson Button.
The 2008 world champion left the British squad at the end of last season to start a new campaign at Mercedes with many suggesting that the 28-year-old may have made the wrong move.
However, Hamilton doesn’t feel that he has to prove a point by trying to beat his former team, and is instead focussed on upstaging Alonso.
"The rivalry between me and Fernando excites me more (than with Button),” Hamilton was quoted saying by the Daily Mail. “He’s the guy I want to beat. You also want to beat Seb (Sebastian Vettel)... But Alonso’s the fastest driver I can see. He’s also one of the most experienced. Anyone would struggle to beat him.”
Alonso was paired at McLaren during Hamilton’s debut season in 2007 which ignited the feud between the two, although seemingly now in check, taking an ugly turn which resulted in the Spaniard leaving the team.
Consequently, Alonso’s fans over the year have targeted Hamilton, ranging from racist remarks to greeting him with boos, as witnessed on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix last year.
"I am either loved or hated," acknowledged the 28-year-old. "Unfortunately, when I got into Formula 1 I didn't always know what I was saying. I said one thing but meant another and people took it the wrong way. And people don't forget.
"Go to Spain and people generally hate me there. Whether it was something I said about Fernando or something he said to the people about me, they do not forget and you are branded.
“All you can do is slowly try to change it, but it takes time,” he added.