Lewis Hamilton’s former team-mate Heikki Kovalainen says “not everyone can handle” driving alongside Lewis in the same team.
Heikki Kovalainen has been Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren in 2008 and 2009. The Finn says it was very hard to match Lewis’ high level of performance.
“Occasionally I could match him but, over the full season, I had to stretch every session to match him,” Kovalainen told talkSPORT.
“You can only do so much stretching, and then you run out of energy and that was the case with me.
“I didn’t have enough margin in my capacity to do the times and the races that he did, so it was not easy.
“His level of performance is so high that, even for super talents like Max [Verstappen], it requires a lot of effort, a lot of focus, a lot of energy, so it’s not going to be easy.
“Not everyone can handle that, it’s as simple as that.”
The Finn goes on to say that Lewis’ Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg had to retire because it was hard for him to operate at that high level continuously.
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“I think Rosberg had to use all the tools from his toolbox to be able to beat Lewis and that nearly killed him.
“He said it himself, he couldn’t have done another season like that or he’d be dead.”
Most interestingly, Kovalainen says he believes being partnered with Lewis at McLaren in 2007, during the Briton’s rookie year, might have rattled Fernando Alonso so much, that it derailed the rest of his Formula 1 career.
“Since [Alonso’s] championship years with Renault, he’s always made the wrong move and just sometimes I wonder if the trigger was the surprise of Hamilton’s speed.
“If that is the core issue, then the falling out with [McLaren boss at the time] Ron Dennis and with the team followed, and there wasn’t any other place to go. Renault was kind of on a downward slope.
“He was just playing catch up after that and that never really recovered,” Kovalainen concluded.