Mercedes technical boss James Allison has lavished praise on Lewis Hamilton, hailing the title leader both as a man and a driver.
Allison joined the world champions as technical director in February, effectively replacing Paddy Lowe, having previously worked at Ferrari and Renault.
While those previous stints saw Allison work alongside multiple-world champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, his move to Mercedes brought him into a working relationship with Hamilton for the first time – and almost the very first time they had made contact.
“I think I’d only ever said hello to him once in all the years prior to that and the experience of working with him is very different to what I imagined it would be,” said Allison.
Speaking at the Japanese GP, where Hamilton extended his championship lead to 59 points, Allison added: “It has been a considerable pleasure joining Mercedes this year for many, many reasons but one of those was that it was my first opportunity to start working alongside Lewis.
“I’ve found a racing driver or the sort of excellence that all of us can see from his statistics and the way he goes about his job but what has been particularly good is that I’ve found a guy that conducts himself as a man in a way that makes you happy to work alongside him. And that’s been an enjoyable and good thing about joining Mercedes.”
But Allison, whose close working relationships with Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel is almost unique in the paddock, would not be drawn on evaluating which of the illustrious trio he rated the highest.
“I get asked this question a lot and it’s a frustrating question because, first of all, there’s an impossibility of answering it because there’s only one way to know for sure and it’s to line them all up in exactly the same equipment on the same days and have a championship where you find out exactly,” he added.
“All I can tell you is that all three of them have got the victories and the achievements that they have, not by good fortune but by being brilliantly skilful racing drivers,” he said.