Championship leader Lewis Hamilton will "create the new benchmark for Formula One", according to three-time champion and fellow Briton Sir Jackie Stewart.
Hamilton leads team-mate Fernando Alonso by two points
The 22-year-old McLaren rookie became the youngest driver to lead the overall standings after his fourth podium finish of the season in Spain.
"I think he is going to rewrite the book," said Stewart.
"We'll see a new generation of properly prepared professional racing drivers. I don't think there is one who is that."
Stewart continued: "[Seven-time champion Michael] Schumacher became that, but I am talking about fully rounded.
"Schumacher was not as good as he should have been, not in terms of the driving but the total package.
Hamilton has the opportunity to be dominant over time and Raikkonen doesn't, unless something substantial changes
Three-time world champion Jackie Stewart
"Niki Lauda and James Hunt changed the culture of racing drivers, but they were not role models.
"They said nothing, didn't give a damn. Lewis Hamilton can become the role model."
Hamilton is the only driver in the history of the world championship to finish his first four Grands Prix on the podium.
He has also beaten double world champion and team-mate Fernando Alonso in his last two races.
Despite not having won, he leads Alonso by two points with the Monaco Grand Prix next up at the end of the month.
Hamilton is the first black driver to compete in Formula One and Stewart said his personality was a key strength.
The Scot recalled how Hamilton had been invited to a youth club, of which Stewart is the president, in London's East End to meet children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"He was magic," Stewart said. "It was mostly one-parent families, mostly black, a very mixed group and he was just the best guest ever.
"This is a troubled area with gangs who shoot people. Lewis is the kind of guy who shows kids that if they think a little differently they don't have to go this route."
Stewart also took a swipe at Kimi Raikkonen, an early favourite for the title after replacing Schumacher at Ferrari.
"The way he lives his life is contrary to allowing him to put together the complete package," said Stewart.
"That is why Hamilton has the opportunity to be dominant over time and Raikkonen doesn't, unless something substantial changes."