Lewis Hamilton wants Fernando Alonso, and Sebastian Vettel, in F1
"If Seb was to stop before his time I think that would be a shame, he's got a lot more to give to the sport and a lot more to achieve."
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 11/07/20 10:43am
Lewis Hamilton has welcomed the return of Fernando Alonso to Formula 1, but also insists he wants Sebastian Vettel to retain his place on the grid in 2021 to "keep the world champions" in the sport.
Hamilton and Vettel, who have 10 titles between them, and Kimi Raikkonen are currently the only champions driving in F1 but Alonso, winner in 2005 and 2006, will be back in next year with Renault, after two seasons away.
Hamilton and Alonso were combative as team-mates back at McLaren in 2007 but have enjoyed a respectful relationship since, and asked if he welcomed the Spaniard's return, Hamilton said: "Why would I not?
"Ultimately, I think the more top drivers we have, the better it is for the sport. I've not spoken to him so I don't know his reasons, but congratulations to him."
Although Hamilton is expected to sign a new contract at Mercedes, the future of the other champions on next year's grid is less certain - particularly Vettel who will be leaving Ferrari at the end of the season.
Vettel's options appear limited. He had talks with Renault before Alonso signed while former team Red Bull have already given him a "definite no".
But Hamilton believes the four-time champion has a lot more to offer in F1.
"If Seb was to stop before his time I think that would be a shame, I think he's got a lot more to give to the sport and a lot more to achieve," said Hamilton, who overtook Vettel's trophy haul in 2018.
"It's all about making sure we have as many top drivers as possible, so we want to keep the world champions.
"Seb is a world champion, Fernando is a world champion, and I think that's only good for the sport."
But Hamilton also admitted that ultimately the sport would continue to progress even without the champions on the grid.
"I don't think Formula 1 was at a loss [when Alonso left]," he added. "If you look at the drivers that have stepped out the past few years I don't think Formula 1 has lost anything, I think it has continued to grow in a positive direction."
Hamilton: Alonso experience will be 'bonus' for Renault
Alonso, who left the sport in 2018 after four frustrating years back at McLaren, turns 39 later this month and will be 41 if he sees out the two years of his initial Renault contract.
Raikkonen is currently the oldest driver on the grid, aged 40.
"I would imagine there's pros and cons [on being experienced]," said Hamilton, 35. "Experience counts for a lot and particularly when you're working for a team like Renault, who like every team are pushing to develop and move forwards and evolve, experience can help the team move in the right direction. That will definitely be a bonus for them.
"I don't know what it's like to be 40 yet so I don't know about the physical challenges.
"Michael [Schumacher] came here [Mercedes] and I think was physically great at that age so I have no doubts Fernando can be in great shape and the bonus for me is that I was the second-oldest, and now I'm going to be the third-oldest!"
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