Fernando Alonso makes Lewis Hamilton-inspired ‘$200m+’ budget quip

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are the two longest serving members of the F1 grid.


Fernando Alonso had the assembled media in stitches when he teased George Russell with a joke that Lewis Hamilton’s salary takes Mercedes’ budget over $200million a season, not the budget cap-level $135m Russell insisted on.


Formula 1 is back as the Bahrain International Circuit hosts the three-day pre-season test ahead out of the F1 2024 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is not all on-track matters which the drivers are getting re-accustomed to, with Alonso, Russell and Alex Albon having headed for a chat with the media.


And what started as a fresh attack against the limited testing schedule from Alonso, soon turned to smiles as he joked about seven-time World Champion Hamilton’s impact on the Mercedes budget, after Russell had questioned Alonso’s quick maths.


Fernando Alonso jokes Lewis Hamilton inflates Mercedes budget


With only three days of testing using one car permitted ahead of the opening race weekend, Alonso branded this is a “ridiculous” situation and nowhere near enough track time.


“It’s like football or tennis, you change the rackets or the balls and everything before a tournament or before a season and you let the players test all the equipment one day before a Grand Slam,” Alonso told media including PlanetF1.com.


“And we are talking the most sophisticated sport and $200 million budgets per team a year and things like that, so it seems all ridiculous…”


At that point, he was cut off by Russell, who said Mercedes spend the maximum allowed under the budget cap.


“Our budget is $135 million,” Russell interjected.


Alonso was ready for that one though, joking that Russell’s team-mate Hamilton adds many more millions to that tally thanks to his salary.


Driver salaries are not included in a team’s budget limit.


“Yeah, but you have a very expensive driver alongside you, so it’s more than 200 probably for Mercedes with your team-mate,” said Alonso with a smile as laughter erupted in the room.


Alonso soon had his serious hat back on though, advocating that if F1 is to stick to this three-day testing schedule, then at the very least the rules should be changed to permit the use of both cars, not just one.


“Being here, I think we all have our full crew here, all the mechanics are here ready for next week,” he said.


“So I don’t know the extra cost of having both cars here. But we race here in five days time, it’s not that we need to go back to Europe and then send the cars back again to Bahrain or something.


“So I think we all have two cars ready more or less to time, so I think having two cars in the three days or four days should be I think the minimum for a professional sport or professional athletes to compete in a World Championship.”


Alonso, the most experienced F1 driver of all-time, heads into F1 2024 looking to build on a stellar first campaign with Aston Martin where he claimed eight podium finishes.



Gideon Canice

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