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Hamilton must establish himself says Hill

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11/01/2007

1996 World Champion Damon Hill is confident that British 'hot shot Lewis Hamilton will make his mark in Formula One, however he has warned the 2006 GP2 Champion to assert himself from the outset.

Hamilton is to partner World Champion Fernando Alonso at McLaren, the British team having failed to score a single win in 2006, the first time this has happened since 1996.

Despite some tremendous performances in 2006, some fear that Hamilton is being 'blooded' too early, claiming that the youngster should have spent a year as test driver before making the significant leap up to the role of race driver, for one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport. Hill however, is confident that Hamilton has made the right move.

It's plausible that he will get a win during the season," Hill told race fans in Birmingham. However, the former Williams and Arrows star believes that Hamilton must assert himself from the outset.

"You've got a season's grace, maybe even half a season," he said. "Maybe people will give him the leeway and the benefit of the doubt for that first six months but at the end of the season if he hasn't outpaced Fernando at some point or other, people will say 'Where is it, where's the spark?'

"Drivers who have gone on to become great like Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna arrived and went bang," he continued. "They were outpacing their team mate right from the word go. He has a window of opportunity to learn, but it's going to be a short one."

Having made his debut with the ailing Brabham team in 1992, Hill moved to Williams in 1993, where he partnered three-time World Champion Alain Prost. The Englishman believes that partnering Alonso will spur Hamilton.

"It's a wonderful gift for Lewis to be put in a team with a guy like Fernando," he said. "All he has to do is beat Fernando and by definition he's a potential two times world champion."

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