Lewis Hamilton can match Sebastian Vettel’s achievements, if he learns to resist the “VIP bullsh*t”. That is the typically blunt assessment of legendary triple world champion Niki Lauda, who hailed reigning double champion Vettel as a “very balanced person”.
“His head is not disturbed by all this VIP bullsh*t,” he is quoted by the Sun. “He is not disturbed at all.”
In contrast, Hamilton – now at the wheel of arguably the best car for the 2012 season – had a dire campaign last season as his professional and personal lives collided and steered off-track.
“Lewis is as good as Sebastian in terms of pure speed and talent,” agreed Lauda, “but sometimes (Hamilton) gets disturbed through his different lifestyle.
“If he gets his head in order again and is not disturbed, then he will be a strong competitor.”
Arguably a bigger threat this year will be Jenson Button, the cool-headed 2011 runner-up who last year beat Hamilton in an identical McLaren.
“Jenson was the number two driver in the team but he has done a perfect job,” said Lauda.
“He has stayed stable and improved and today it is interesting to see the battle between him and Lewis because that is the strongest lineup in F1.”
But if they get a sniff of the championship, their personalities could collide and result in an all-out Alonso-Hamilton style war, warns former F1 driver Johnny Herbert.
“It has the recipe for that to happen,” said the former Sauber and Jaguar driver.