Stewart calls on Hamilton to be 'deflated' as bubble bursts

Everybody has an opinion of what Lewis Hamilton is cur-rently doing wrong, just as last year everyone had an opinion about what he was doing right. But when the man expressing an opinion is Sir Jackie Stewart – ahead of next week's British Grand Prix, which will be a critical event for Hamilton – you tend to listen more keenly.

Not just because Stewart has won more than four times as many races as Britain's brown-eyed boy, nor because he is three World Championships up on him. But because of all the greats, it is Stewart whom Hamilton most resembles, and along whose lines he could most profitably mould his own career. He is not the next Jackie Stewart, but the first Lewis Hamilton. Yet that doesn't mean that he, or his father and manager Anthony, cannot look and learn.

The Scot has always been a great role model. Like Hamilton he won in his first season in 1965 as team-mate to the infinitely more experienced champion Graham Hill. But crucially, he was shrewd enough to know what Hamilton didn't know.

In 1968, Hill beat him to the world crown after a season-long fight. But for a scaphoid injury, Stewart would probably have won it. But he was sufficiently astute to admit: "I was not ready at that time in my life to have done justice to winning the World Championship. I just wasn't ready for it and all the pressures it brought."

A year later he was, and he dominated in Ken Tyrrell's Matra Ford. In 1971 and 1973 he was similarly the yardstick. Besides a preternaturally calm demeanour – he likened his mood on race day to a deflated balloon – he was the master of mind management.

"I was one of the first to start using the term," Stewart says. "I believe it was one of the single most important ingredients that I had as a racing driver. Denis Jenkinson was one of my most fervent critics – he called me a 'milk and water' racer – yet he once wrote that I was a great driver but the problem was that there was no passion there.

"I was clinical. It was one of the greatest compliments he could have paid me. I had worked out that the biggest enemy I had was emotion. Whenever I did not control emotion I lost the plot. I failed to get the very best out of the car and myself."

It's interesting to consider that when you hear Hamilton talking after last weekend's French Grand Prix, his second race in a row without points, which left him trailing new series leader and race winner Felipe Massa by 10 points. Last year Hamilton was the glacier as Fernando Alonso came unglued.

When Hamilton says after the race: "I'm still here, there's nothing you can do to get me out of it. I have no worries about how far behind I am. Kimi [Raikkonen] was 17 points behind and still won last year. I could be 20 points behind, I don't care, I'll still come back," you sense in his understandable defensiveness the child in the man screaming defiance into a high wind.

"Lewis is already world famous, thanks to the amazing opportunity he was given last year, and the incredible skill with which he took advantage of it," Stewart says. "He's experiencing both the privilege and the penalty of celebrity. He's excited the media so much, and now some people are starting to feel let down. But we should remember that Lewis has only been in F1 for 15 months. He's not the finished article yet – and it's wrong to think that he should be. He might not like to hear this but he has a fundamental lack of experience at the top of the sport. If he asked my advice, I'd say, 'Take your time, and don't expect too much of yourself'.

"I know because I've been there myself. I had a big accident in my second year, which I was lucky to survive. Over the next few years I changed: I gained experience, which gave me knowledge, which in turn enabled me to deliver."

It remains to be seen whether Hamilton can do that for his fans next weekend, but it won't be for lack of trying. What 2008 has shown is he has yet to master the knack of not over-trying.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'