London - Lewis Hamilton rates his erstwhile team-mate Fernando Alonso as the greatest driver he has competed against in his career.
The championship leader told reporters Thursday that he felt it was a pity that the two-time champion Spaniard, who announced last week that he will depart Formula One at the end of this season, was not as decorated as he deserved to be.
"For sure, in the racing world he will be missed," Hamilton said.
"He has been a really big part of it and is one of the greatest drivers that have ever been here.
"I would say it is a shame that he is not as decorated as his ability deserves, but sport is a very interesting machine and it's not just about being a great driver.
"It is how you manoeuvre, how you play the game. It's like a chess game and how you position yourself with all the different things that are also part of the package.
"He is arguably the greatest driver I have driven against and I wish him all the best."
Alonso ended seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's supremacy when he won the drivers' title in 2005 and 2006 with Renault, becoming the youngest champion.
He was also the youngest race winner in 2003, but all his records have been surpassed.
He raced with Hamilton at McLaren in 2007 when, after a troubled and often acrimonious season, they were beaten to the title by Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.
After that his career slumped as he moved to uncompetitive teams -– Renault and then Ferrari and McLaren, all stuck in periods of transition.
Hamilton said he did not feel sad about Alonso's impending exit.
"Naturally, I don't hold sadness for it," he said. "There's no reason for me to hold sadness for it. He will be missed.
"But 17 seasons is a lot and I have huge respect for that because it is not easy for a driver to stay that long and perform.
"It's a lot of commitment, a lot of time and a lot of dedication that people might not understand and appreciate, but naturally, as within any sport, I can appreciate it."