F1: Lewis Hamilton talks up reignited rivalry with Fernando Alonso

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton has identified Fernando Alonso as his main rival in the 2023 Formula One season after beating his former teammate to second place in the Australian Grand Prix.

The improved Aston Martin were once again contenders in Melbourne as Alonso claimed his third podium in a row, finishing behind Hamilton’s Mercedes in a chaotic race.

There is nonetheless a renewed sense of mutual respect between the veteran racers as Hamilton said Sunday’s race reminded him of their duel in the McLarens on his 2007 debut.

“Max [Verstappen] is in another league, his car is so fast,” he told Sky F1. “He passed me halfway down the straight, I don’t know how they’re so quick on the straight it’s insane.

“Until we pick up speed on the straight and have the crazy downforce they have through the corners, that’s how it’s going to continue. But if we work together we can definitely fight the Ferraris and the [Astons].

“The battle’s really with Fernando right now. I enjoyed racing with him. It was very reminiscent of my first race here in 2007.”

Alonso described Hamilton’s performance in Australia as that of a “champion” as he settled for third place, although it could have been very different when he spun out in a two-lap shootout following a late red flag.

Carlos Sainz was handed a five-second penalty for making contact with his fellow countryman and described his punishment as “the most unfair I’ve ever seen” after the race.