Calm down or you'll never be a great, Stewart tells Lewis

Great Scot says McLaren driver is wasting talent by getting involved in crashes like Sunday's with Massa

Sir Jackie Stewart suggested yesterday that Lewis Hamilton has to learn to drive more cautiously if he is to be considered one of the greats after the 2008 world champion collided with old rival Felipe Massa as they battled for fifth place in Singapore on Sunday.

"He certainly knows how to drive and has a very large amount of natural talent," the Scot said. "But if he is going to be a great driver he cannot have serial incidents. None of the great drivers ever drove in that fashion. The Fangios, Jim Clarks, Niki Laudas, myself – we didn't have many accidents. Lewis has all the skills, but he jumps out of gear mentally."

The McLaren driver was already on his back foot in Singapore when, for reasons not readily understandable to everyone, the FIA refused to allow him a fresh rear supersoft Pirelli tyre to replace one punctured by debris in the second qualifying session. That immediately compromised his race strategy, such is the intensity of the competition at the front of F1 these days, and even with DRS overtaking is still far from easy. Throw in another poor start by Mark Webber, who cost Hamilton four places as he defended his own by blocking him going into the first corner, and it's not hard to see why Hamilton was pushing hard to recover. He also knew that Massa was a lot slower than him, as Ferrari admit that theirs is only the third fastest car now.

There was one great whom Stewart did not mention, who drove with the same rage to win that Hamilton exhibits: Gilles Villeneuve. The French-Canadian often had to overdrive poor machinery to get something from it, or while recovering from incidents, breeding a similar reputation as a hothead. He, like Hamilton now, tended to be in the spotlight more than most because of their spectacular style.

But others are not without blame. Stewart was only ever involved in two race track collisions; one came when the fiery Swiss Clay Regazzoni pushed him off the track in Germany in 1972, the other when he and rival Emerson Fittipaldi collided on their slowing down lap at Monaco the following year through a genuine misunderstanding.

But Lauda was a hothead back in 1974, his first season with Ferrari, as was Jody Scheckter in 1973, when he triggered the multiple pile-up on the second lap of the British GP. And Michael Schumacher... Today the stakes are so high, and car performance generally so evenly matched (Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull perhaps being a notable exception), that incidents are inevitably more frequent. Fernando Alonso, for example, widely acknowledged as one of the best, has had his moments, running into Hamilton in Malaysia and putting Vettel on the grass recently in Italy.

"I think he didn't expect me to go on the left, but as soon as he saw me he didn't back off but at least pulled to the right and gave me enough room," Vettel said, though they spoke about it afterwards. "It was borderline but I know that if I want to get past, I have to try something. Generally, if you race people like Fernando and people with a lot of experience and people you respect a lot, you can really push the limits and really go wheel to wheel without thinking about it, because you know that the guy will give you just enough room – not a lot but just enough."

"We have nothing to lose in the battles with Sebastian," admitted Alonso, whom Hamilton regards as his toughest rival. "He is leading the championship by 100 points I think, so when we have to defend we will be a little bit harder with him. Sorry."

Being hard, these days, has become even more the nature of the game. "When you are told you are back in 19th place on a circuit like that, it is deeply, deeply frustrating, so to deal with that and perform as well as he did was extraordinary – so Lewis should get some credit for that," McLaren chief Martin Whitmarsh suggested.

Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
i100
News
Privately schooled, Oxford educated and a former editor of arguably the world's poshest magazine 'The Lady', it's perhaps unsurprising that Rachel Johnson rarely mixes with ordinary Proles.
people

The Mayor of London's sister, Rachel Johnson, apologises for shocking tweet about the PM

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environmentNepenthes zygon had been growing for almost a decade and helping to keep down cockroaches
News
This artist impression shows a modern-day Atlantis
news
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital