Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Near miss will inspire Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton will use the experience of last year's narrow defeat in the Formula One title race to spur him to the crown this season, according to legendary driver Alain Prost.

Hamilton lost the title to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen by one point last season but Prost believes the 23-year-old can follow his own example and come back stronger.

Prost won four world titles after several near-misses and believes the McLaren driver can become the 2008 world champion.

"I think Lewis will be the top guy," Prost told BBC One's Inside Sport in an interview to be broadcast in Monday night's edition of the programme.

But the Frenchman predicted Hamilton would need the support of his team to achieve that aim.

"If he has a good car, I don't think it should be a problem. He has more experience now," added Prost.

"I lost the championship in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984 by a few points and at one time, I said to myself it must be that I cannot win the championship - and then I won it four times later on.

"If you have everything together, you have plenty of time."

Prost predicted Hamilton's closest challengers would come from the Ferrari and Renault teams.

"The Ferrari will always be there, so we don't know about Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa - it depends on whether Kimi has the same motivation or not," he said.

"Fernando Alonso will be just a little bit behind, but quite close."

The key for Hamilton, whose season gets under way in Melbourne on March 16, would be how he coped with the pressure of expectation on him this season.

"We are going to see how he (Lewis Hamilton) is going to handle this extra pressure," said Prost.

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