Prost sympathises with Alonso's situation

Four-time world champion Alain Prost said on Tuesday that he was "absolutely surprised and impressed" by Lewis Hamilton's stunning arrival in Formula One this year

Prost sympathises with Alonso's situation

But he felt great sympathy for Hamilton's McLaren teammate and rival Fernando Alonso, who has been swept aside by the young Briton's recent surge of two wins to take over as leader of the title race by ten points.

The Frenchman, who endured a stormy rivalry with Brazilian Ayrton Senna when they were at McLaren in the late 1980's, said he found the human drama of the title race irresistible.

"It is so different from past years," he said. "In the past it has been about the racing or the technology, but this is about the human factor. It is all about the psychology. And, I must say, I know just how Alonso must be feeling."

Speaking at a reception hosted by the Swiss watch maker TAG Heuer to launch a limited edition book of artistic photographs to raise funds for Save the Children, Prost told Reuters that he understood defending champion Alonso's problems.

"Usually, in this situation, they are drivers of different generations, but these two are separated by only two or three years. And both are new in the team," he said. "That makes it more difficult for Alonso.

"He wanted to go to McLaren because it was like a dream for him, but now he is there he is finding he is not the only one in the family. I think it must be very difficult for him to motivate himself in this situation."

Prost said that for Alonso it was a tough position.

"When you have a young driver against one who has been winning, then the people, the media and everyone all support the new and young driver. That is how it is.

"It was like that for me with Niki (Lauda) and then it was like it for Ayrton, with me. Now it is the same, but this time Alonso came new to the team and expected to feel like a number one.

"I always say that it is just a feeling, but it so difficult to deal with. I felt it. Even if it is not true that the team favour Lewis in any way, and I am sure they do not, that does not stop Alonso having that feeling.

"You think you are the only son and then you find out that there is another one and then you think that maybe they like him more than you."

Prost said Hamilton's progress and results proved he was already at the very top level in the sport and destined for greatness.

"He has not made any mistakes, he is consistent, he is fast," he said. "Maybe the only thing to worry about is that he is young and something can happen."

And he added that given 22-year-old Hamilton's stunning form this season - he has been on the podium at every race - he has every chance of going on to take the title.

"Yes, he is amazing, but still things can happen. But most of all I think it is good for the sport, good for the team and good for everyone. Even Alonso. He will learn from this and be harder and faster in the future."

The two McLaren men go head to head again this weekend on Prost's home soil in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, a week before Hamilton races in front of his home fans at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix.

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