Toto Wolff used Fernando Alonso as an example to praise Lewis Hamilton and his bold decision to leave McLaren and join the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team in 2013. At the time, many former drivers and experts labelled it a step down and a poor decision on the part of the British racer owing to McLaren being ahead of the Silver Arrows.

Hamilton has made his critics eat their words after helping Mercedes dominate the Hybrid Era that began in 2014. The 36-year-old has claimed six Drivers' Championship titles with the Brackley-based team, while Mercedes have gone on to win seven back-to-back double championships in the same period.

Wolff has praised Hamilton's achievements and believes the "magnitude" of it will only be realised once the Briton calls time on his illustrious career. The former McLaren driver's consistent dominance over the field has seen other drivers on the grid and former F1 stars suggest that anyone could have triumphed if they were driving the all-conquering Mercedes machine.

Lewis Hamilton
Home comfort: Lewis Hamilton celebrates after finishing first in Friday qualifying at Silverstone LARS BARON/POOL

Alonso has been among them in the past after he suggested that Hamilton's seven titles are mostly because of the car and not because of pure talent alone. Wolff has used the Spaniard as an example to suggest that it takes more than just being in the right car, and pointed to Hamilton's decision to take a chance on Mercedes when he was with a superior McLaren team.

Alonso is a two-time F1 world champion, but has failed to consistently fight for championships since leaving Renault in 2006 for McLaren. The 40-year-old, who returned to F1 this season, fought for the title during his time with Ferrari, but otherwise it has always been the case of "wrong place, wrong time" for the Spanish racer.

"The people who say they could be world champions in Lewis' car — well, why aren't you in that car? Why did he switch from McLaren to Mercedes in 2013? It was a bold move. There are examples, even now, people who went for the money rather than the car," Wolff told the Daily Mail.

"Fernando Alonso is without doubt one of the best Formula 1 drivers to have raced. Ever. It is disappointing for the sport that he hasn't got more than two titles to his name. But it's about knowing that you're part of the solar system, you're not the sun."

Alonso moved to McLaren in 2007, where he fought for the title alongside then teammate Hamilton. The duo were pipped to the title by a single point by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen after in-fighting between the two McLaren drivers.

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso has agreed a new long-term deal with McLaren Getty

After his marginally successful spell with Ferrari between 2010 and 2014, he ditched the Maranello team to re-join McLaren, who were partnering with Honda. It was a miserable four-season spell for the Spanish driver as the Woking-based team spent most of their time at the back of the grid before he left the sport at the end of the 2018 season.

"Some drivers are ill-advised, they get in the media spotlight and they start to believe they're the sun. And you're not. None of us are. We're all satellites, we're the planets that rotate," Wolff added.

Alonso is currently back in F1 with Alpine Racing and is contracted to the Enstone-based team until the end of the 2022 season. He remains hopeful that the start of a new era next season will see his team, who are fighting in the midfield, being able to move higher up the grid.

Coming back to Hamilton, the Briton is seeking a record eighth Drivers' title this season. The Mercedes driver currently trails Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen by 12 points with five races remaining in the 2021 campaign. The next race is at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City on Nov 7.

Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton believes Max Verstappen is likely to increase his 12-point lead in the next two F1 races Zak Mauger/POOL