Sao Paulo: Red Bull’s Mark Webber would make the best Formula One champion but Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso is more likely to win this year’s title, Jackie Stewart said on Thursday.
The triple world champion also told reporters at the Brazilian Grand Prix that he saw McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button as outsiders in what is still mathematically a five-way battle.
“For me, there’s three drivers in contention now,” the Scot said at the Interlagos circuit where Alonso could win his third championship on Sunday.
The Spaniard is 11 points clear of Webber and 21 ahead of Hamilton. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel is 25 points off the pace and reigning champion Button 42 with one race in Abu Dhabi to follow Brazil.
“Alonso I think is the better equipped to do it, he’s done it twice and he knows the business,” said Stewart. “He’s got Ferrari and they are a very strong team under those circumstances.
“But I think Mark Webber would make the best world champion this year. He’s 34, he’s got wisdom, he’s got maturity.
“Sebastian will unquestionably win the world championship in the future,” added the 71-year-old, who saw Vettel as the third man in the equation.
“I think that this year Mark Webber would carry it better because he presents himself well and an Australian hasn’t won it since Alan Jones... for the sport he would carry it in a bolder way, because Sebastian at 23 is quite young to do that.”
Webber, winner of four races this year, lost the championship lead in South Korea 11 days ago after he crashed out while in second place.
Alonso won that race, with Hamilton second, after Vettel’s car suffered a blown engine while leading.
Stewart hailed Hamilton as “the hardest racer in the grand prix field” and said he could not be written off.
“He’s aggressive, bold and takes chances. He could certainly turn the whole table around if the conditions were wet. But if it’s dry, I think the other three have a better chance,” he declared.
“I think the McLarens are less well equipped to do it than the three other drivers.”
Red Bull, who can trace their lineage back to the Stewart Grand Prix team founded by the Scot in 1997 before selling out to Jaguar at the end of 1999, are leading McLaren in the constructors’ championship by 27 points.
Stewart said he was thrilled by the success of a team that still includes some of the mechanics who worked on his original project.
“I’m proud of them because I walk up and down here and see my old mates who were working here with us,” he told Reuters.
“If they win the constructors’ championship, I’ll buy them a drink.”