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Sep 19th
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Alonso calls Hamilton F1's 'fastest driver'

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Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso has labeled his former McLaren best friend forever Lewis Hamilton as "maybe the fastest" driver on the current Formula One grid, in a revealing series of comments on many of his rivals on the grid.

Alonso was asked for his thoughts on his immediate rivals on the 2011 grid by the impishly curious Spanish AS newspaper, with Alonso's responses ranging from dull to almost interesting.

On Hamilton, who Alonso infamously had a very public falling out with during their season together at McLaren in 2007, he appeared to reserve the highest praise.

"He is a great driver and maybe the fastest at the moment in Formula One," Alonso mused when asked for his thoughts on his former team mate.

As for the new Formula One champion, Alonso remarked of Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel that: "[He is] very fast and precise. If he is coming first in a race, he is difficult to stop."

On Vettel's Red Bull team mate Mark Webber, the Spaniard indicated that he hadn't watched a replay of Korea last year yet, saying: "[Webber is] experienced, calm and very consistent. It is very rare to see him fail."

Earlier in the pre-season Alonso had earmarked Michael Schumacher as his biggest rival for the 2011 title, though in the AS interview he seemed to have relaxed that opinion slightly.

"[Schumacher] is the champion, we all respect him and he is a driver always capable of surprising," was all that Alonso had to say this time around.

Meanwhile, on 2009 champion Jenson Button he said: "[He] has a great instinct for difficult races in rain or with the safety car. This is an unique talent."

Finally, when asked about his team mate Felipe Massa, he said that the Brazilian was: "Very quick, knows the team and is very hungry to win."

Alonso also saved some choice words for his critics, saying that he knew that despite negative reactions to him on the internet, he still knew he had a big fanbase.

"There are more than 30,000 people here," he smiled, referring to the stands at last weekend's Jerez test, "The people who speak badly about me then tremble and cry when they want to have their picture taken with me."

He went on: "There is a difference between how brave people feel writing on the internet, and when I see the admiration I receive all around the world.

"I also think it's easier to write that there are so many people who are anti-Alonso than to write that 30,000 people came to a test to see me."