Lewis Hamilton has been advised to take more than one leaf out of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button's book in order to prove that his 2008 F1 world title was not a one-off.
That is the opinion of regular Hamilton critic Niki Lauda, who believes that McLaren's other Briton is the better driver of the two at the moment following the Belgian Grand Prix. Lauda voiced a brief opinion on Hamilton's race - and subsequent exit in a collision with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi - in an interview with the BBC
, but followed that up with further criticism of the driver's approach, which the Austrian claims belies his position as one of the sport's top three stars.
“Lewis could learn a lot from Button," the 62-year old was quoted by Britain's Express
newspaper, "Lewis outqualifies Jenson and is the quicker driver but, in Belgium, it was Jenson who finished third while Hamilton crashed out again. You can't win championships if you are crashing.
"Look at Sebastian Vettel, he is not making any mistakes or crashing, and that is why he is going to win the title again this year. You can argue he has the quicker car, but just look at Jenson and Lewis. They have the same car, but it is Button who is leading [Hamilton] in the championship, [and] that is because he is getting the car home and scoring points. It is very frustrating because Lewis is one of the top three best drivers in F1. There is no question about that."
Lauda insisted that Hamilton did not need to do much to alter the way he approached grands prix, but definitely needed to calm down after two-thirds of a season that has seen him involved in more than his fair share of incidents, including several in Monaco, one with Button in Canada and another with Williams rookie Pastor Maldonado during qualifying in Belgium.
“He is overdoing it," the Austrian surmised, "He just needs to come back a fraction as it is all very simple. If you're not scoring points, then you're not going to win championships.”
Hamilton has not been beaten on points by a team-mate since graduating to F1 with McLaren in 2007 - tying with Fernando Alonso in his maiden campaign, before seeing off Heikki Kovalainen and Button over the past three seasons - but currently trails the Briton by three points in the closely-fought four-way battle to be runner-up to runaway leader Vettel. Both McLaren drivers also lag behind Red Bull's Mark Webber and Ferrari's Alonso with seven rounds remaining, and Hamilton's approach has also attracted criticism from another three-time world champion.
"Lewis is a racer and he's always been very aggressive, but he's had far too many collisions this season," Sir Jackie Stewart agreed, "If he is continually going out of races, then it's going to affect his results. That's something he needs to get out of quickly.”
Gerhard Berger, meanwhile, suggested that if Hamilton was in a better car, he would not be making so many moves.
"He is extremely aggressive and the best overtaker in the field but, at times, he overdoes it," he said, agreeing with both Lauda and Stewart, "If he was sitting in the Red Bull, he would not have to take so many risks and so he would get into a lot less mischief."