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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
Hamilton 'could become best ever'
Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton has made a superb start to his F1 career
Rising star Lewis Hamilton could go on to become the greatest racing driver of all time, according to his McLaren team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

The 22-year-old has become the first driver in Formula One history to score podiums in his first three races.

"It's too early to analyse but if the trend continues there is no reason why he could not become the greatest driver ever," Whitmarsh told the Guardian.

"What I'm seeing so early in this man's career is remarkable."


Hamilton is joint top of the drivers' standings after three races of his debut F1 season.

Three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart has already said he thinks Hamilton could go on to become champion in his first season, and team owner Frank Williams has described him as "superhuman".

Whitmarsh added: "Since I joined McLaren in 1989 I've worked with a lot of great drivers, including [Alain] Prost, [Ayrton] Senna, Mika Hakkinen and now Fernando Alonso with Lewis - and I think it's pretty clear Lewis ticks all the necessary boxes," added Whitmarsh.

Whitmarsh laid out the criteria he believed separated the elite from the "simply good or average".

"Firstly, you obviously need the natural skill," he said.

"Secondly, you require a considerable degree of natural toughness.

"Thirdly, some technical empathy is a major benefit because it helps a driver to integrate better with his engineers, which in turn speeds up the car development progress.

"Finally there is fitness, determination and application. Even over their cornflakes the top guys are always thinking what they can do to improve their own performances.

"It is almost as if they have some special genetic capability. Lesser drivers don't do this, possibly because they aren't smart enough, aren't committed enough or simply don't care."

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