Four-times world champion Alain Prost has said that he believes Lewis Hamilton has what it takes to follow in his footsteps – as long as his car is good enough.
The F1 legend, who took the title three times while driving a McLaren, told the BBC that he was backing Hamilton to win this year while being interviewed for the Inside Sport programme.
He said: “I think Lewis will be the top guy. If he has a good car, I don’t think it should be a problem. He has more experience now.
“I lost the championship in ’81, ’82, ’83, ’84 by a few points and at one time, I said to myself it must be that I cannot win the championship – and then I won it four times later on.
“If you have everything together, you have plenty of time.”
But he said Hamilton will be facing some tricky opposition, not least from Kimi Raikkonen in his Ferrari and Fernando Alonso at Renault.
“The Ferrari will always be there, so we don’t know about Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa – it depends on whether Kimi has the same motivation or not.
“Fernando Alonso will be just a little bit behind, but quite close.
“We are going to see how [Lewis Hamilton] is going to handle this extra pressure.”
* And Hamilton is taking the fight to Ferrari with comments following the recent spell of Barcelona testing.
He said: “Ferrari were ahead by maybe three or four 10ths of a second, but now we are in equal cars.”
He added that he’s expecting to find this season less pressured than the last, with extra experience, less pressure and a good car all on his side.
“Perhaps there is more pressure but I feel there is less. Last year I had so much to prove. There was the press asking ‘can he do it or not?’ I’m sure even people in the team were wondering.
“I was quick in testing but racing is a different thing. People wait for you to fail.
“I think this year is slightly easier. People know how well I can drive. I’m not going into an unknown world.
“I don’t have any doubts that I will do a job this year but that means something different now. It means I want to win the world championship.”