McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh believes that Lewis Hamilton could become F1's greatest ever driver if he can retain his 'humanity and humility' and not let fame go to his head.
Hamilton leads the championship standings going into the German Grand Prix after a season in which Whitmarsh believes the Briton has felt the benefit of ending his professional relationship with father Anthony – who no longer acts as his manager.
“Lewis was in bits at the start of the year,” Whitmarsh told the Daily Telegraph
. "But it was always going to come about because he was suffocated to an extent by his dad and Ron [Dennis].
“They would hate to think it, but they are quite similar characters. They are controlling influences. But Lewis has coped well and has become stronger as an individual for the experience."
Hamilton has yet to put a new manager in place with McLaren having guided him through the season to date, and Whitmarsh said it was crucial that the 2008 title winner gets it right when he puts his new management structure in place.
"Lewis's great strength is his humanity," he said, "but it is also a vulnerability. He does care what people think, he does care how he is viewed by those close to him and by the world. It makes him the complete human being but it is in contrast to other world champions I have known.
"I hope he retains that humanity and humility, but there are times as his boss where you would like him not to be impacted upon by circumstance and people around him who are designed to hurt or distract him.
"When he establishes the management structure he wants – and I hope he does it during the winter as I do not want it to be a distraction – then I hope they keep it simple. Lewis has an appeal beyond F1. He has star quality. Lewis could rewrite the F1 record books. He could become the greatest ever."