Former Formula 1 star Felipe Massa has made a surprising comparison of two former world champions, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.
In a recent interview, Massa claimed that Alonso could have been talked about in the same light as seven-time world champion Schumacher, had the Spaniard not had been such a disruptive influence within some of his teams.
"As for pure talent, I would put Michael and Fernando on the same level," Massa said, as per Planet F1.
“Alonso has the gift, the ease, of understanding a race and driving incredibly fast. A highly intelligent driver with extensive skills and I would say all that also about Michael."
Of course, Massa worked closely with both world champions during his time in F1, being teammates with Schumacher at Ferrari 2006, and with Alonso between 2010 and 2013. So if one man can make this comparison fairly, Massa is probably the one to listen to.
And the Brazilian has confessed he didn't always see eye-to-eye with his ex-teammate Alonso.
Massa added: “I have to admit – it was not easy to live by his side. I had a close relationship with Michael. I was young and eager to absorb all the knowledge of a seven-time champion, and Schumacher treated me very well.
“But I had to wrestle with Fernando in a different way. Outside of the race car, I had zero problems with Alonso, we have always maintained a healthy working relationship.
"With Fernando, that’s one thing. If he pulls down his visor, he becomes another person. He can split a team. We saw that in many racing teams he drove for.
“I see that as his problem. Maybe he could have made more of his talent without this trait.”
Despite the pure natural ability Alonso demonstrates on the track, Massa may have a point, for he has had various notable disagreements with teammates in his time in Formula 1, with previous teammate Lewis Hamilton a particularly fractious relationship during their time at McLaren together.
Alonso is now into his seventeenth year in Formula 1, having agonisingly not won the drivers' championship since his back-to-back successes in 2005 and 2006, which coincidentally ended Schumacher's reign at the top.
Formula 1 fans will sadly never know just how many more titles Alonso could have achieved in his career had things worked out differently.