Alonso: Hamilton is one of the racing greats

Fernando Alonso has joined retirement-bound Felipe Massa in acclaiming Lewis Hamilton as one of Formula One's greatest drivers following the Briton's fourth drivers' world title triumph.

The two-time champion, who was Hamilton's teammate at McLaren in 2007, said ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix that he ranked the 32-year-old above his peers.

"Lewis is one of the greatest drivers in our sport and he showed that, especially in McLaren times, when they were struggling," said Alonso.

"For example, in 2009, that car wasn't very good and he was still winning races. Those kind of performances put him at a very high level.

"The last three championships, obviously, the Mercedes has been the dominant car, so they were a little bit easier, but he deserves the success that he is having now because he showed that talent many, many times."

In yesterday's opening free practice, Hamilton topped the times in a dominant Mercedes one-two.

Making light of a cold, he finished ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was third-quickest, ahead of Dutchman Max Verstappen and his Red Bull teammate Australian Daniel Ricciardo.

Germany's four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was sixth in the second Ferrari. - AFP

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