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Page last updated at 22:52 GMT, Sunday, 19 October 2008 23:52 UK

Hamilton can take pressure - Hill

By Andrew Benson

Lewis Hamilton and Damon Hill
The other drivers feel Lewis is getting away from them and there's a little bit of trying to bring him back down

Damon Hill (right)

Former world champion Damon Hill says Lewis Hamilton will handle the pressure of the Formula One title showdown.

The 23-year-old McLaren star holds a seven-point lead over Ferrari's Felipe Massa going into the final grand prix of the season in Brazil on 2 November.

"The last race is a mountain to climb but he has understood the discipline he needs to see him through," Hill said.

"You have to remind yourself that this is only his second season in F1, and it takes a while to get the hang of it."

After his victory in China on Sunday, Hamilton will become the youngest champion in F1 history if he finishes fifth or better even if Massa wins at Interlagos.

According to Hill, the target is well within his fellow Englishman's reach after demonstrating that he is maturing all the time.

If Massa wins in Brazil, Hamilton must finish at least fifth to be champion
If Massa is second, Hamilton must finish at least seventh
If Massa is third or lower, Hamilton is champion regardless of his result in Brazil

Speaking exclusively to BBC Sport, Hill, Britain's last F1 world champion, said: "Lewis learns through his mistakes.

"The race before (Japan), he showed an impetuosity, (but) he corrected that and drove an impeccable race (in China).

"It was something he needed to fix and he showed that he had fixed it. He is very good at fixing the problem if there is one."

The 1996 world champion added: "It's fair to say it wasn't a scintillating race (in China), but the tension was there all the way through and Lewis did everything right all weekend. That must have been pretty demoralising for Massa."

Hamilton's faultless performance in Shanghai came at the end of a weekend in which his driving tactics had been criticised by his rivals.

There have been murmurings of discontent about some of Hamilton's manoeuvres all season, but they were brought to a head by events in Japan, where the Englishman collided with Massa and eventually finished out of the points in 12th place.

Hill dismissed the criticism as "tall poppy syndrome".

"Pot calling the kettle black, that is what it's called," he said.

"It's nonsense. It's the game that gets played, as long as you realise that it is a game and it's going to get a little bit tetchy at times.

"It strikes me they feel he's getting away from them and there's a little bit of trying to bring him back down."

Hill added that he believed Hamilton was an honest driver who would hold his hands up if he ever overstepped the mark on the track.

"He's not totally blind to his own mistakes," said Hill.

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see also
Hamilton closes on title with win
19 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton 'calm' over title finale
19 Oct 08 |  Formula One
Rivals criticise Hamilton tactics
17 Oct 08 |  Formula One

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