Red Bull driver David Coulthard says British hope Lewis Hamilton should not rush into Formula One.
Coulthard says Hamilton (R) should not be thrown in at the deep end
Hamilton, 21, has tested for McLaren this season and the GP2 champion could partner the incoming Fernando Alonso at the team in 2007.
"He's got the talent and backing, so he should take the time to really grow and mature as a man," said Coulthard.
"I would advise him not to rush in, because if it doesn't quite work out then his could be a very short career."
Hamilton, who signed for McLaren's development programme at the age of 13, impressed during his first two-day test for the team last month as well as in Jerez last week.
In terms of driving talent I think he's ready
He also won the GP2 Championship with one race still to go in September.
However, speculation that he could make his F1 debut at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix has been played down by team boss Ron Dennis.
But it seems as if Hamilton or Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa are battling it out to replace the Ferrari-bound Kimi Raikkonen next season.
And Coulthard, who has over 200 races under his belt in a 13-year F1 career, believes Hamilton needs time to grow into the sport.
"In terms of driving talent I think he's ready, but it's not just about whether you can drive the car or not," added Coulthard.
"It's about how you handle the rollercoaster that is the life of a Formula One driver.
"Inevitably as a young man he's probably still living at home. He probably hasn't grown into living his own life off the track.
"If you imagine 10 years from now, he will be a different man than he is today.
"It's really a question of how he manages that transition which determines whether he has the same success on the race track."