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'Hamilton can become unbeatable'

July 22, 2008 14:31 IST

Lewis Hamilton [Images] will be unbeatable if he continues to drive like he did in Sunday's German Grand Prix, said triple world champion Niki Lauda.

"Last year he was my favourite, but he screwed up in the last two races," the former Ferrari [Images] and McLaren Formula One driver said.

"I think he's got the message now, from Silverstone in a difficult race and here in a difficult race for him. He did an outstanding performance.

"He's on the right track and if he continues like this he's unbeatable."

Hamilton, who triumphed in a thrilling home Grand Prix at a wet Silverstone two weeks previously, effectively won two races on Sunday -- one before Toyota's Timo Glock crashed and the safety car was deployed, and another, far tougher, one afterwards.

In the first half, he streaked away from pole position with Ferrari's Felipe Massa [Images] powerless to respond and world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] lost in his own struggles. The race seemed destined to be a processional victory for the young Briton, merited but no thriller.

The safety car, and McLaren's response to it after consulting their number-crunching strategy experts back at Woking headquarters, threw that notion out of the window.

Hamilton stayed out while others pitted and was then caught out when the safety car remained on track longer than expected.

DAZZLING DISPLAY

With Hamilton dropping to fifth after finally pitting with 16 laps remaining, the fight was on and the Briton used his car's pace advantage to respond with a dazzling display that bore all the hallmarks of a future champion.

Italian reporters were reminded of the days when now-retired seven-times champion Michael Schumacher [Images] used to perform such feats for Ferrari. Others, such as Lauda, mentioned Hamilton's idol, Brazil's [Images] late triple champion Ayrton Senna.

"Perfect, outstanding, Senna-type of driving," was how the retired Austrian driver, now a commentator for German television, summed up the 23-year-old McLaren ace's afternoon at Hockenheim.

The Briton, elated after his second win in a row and fourth of the season, remained focused on the task ahead and wary of pitfalls in a season that has seen four different leaders.

"We're looking strong, we're looking good ... but as you know, in a Formula One season things change," he said. "All I know is that we will have a competitive car and if we can challenge for wins, then great."

Hamilton is four points ahead of Ferrari's Massa with eight races remaining.

Lauda, who won his third and final title with McLaren in 1984, said Hamilton needs to keep a level head.

The Briton lost the title to Ferrari's Raikkonen by a single point last year after the Finn ate up his rival's 17-point lead in the final two races.

"If he continues to drive like this and not start fainting like last year in the last couple of races, then he's in the right direction, no question," said Lauda.

"The most important [thing] for him is to calm himself down and not try to win everything with power and stress. Calm him down and he will use his ability to drive quick in a way which he will drive races like this," he added.

"If he and the team work together in the same direction, Ferrari will not beat them."

© Copyright 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
Formula One: The Complete Coverage

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