Sir Jackie Stewart has slammed Lewis Hamilton for being 'complacent' in his attitude towards safety in Formula 1, warning that somebody will be killed in the new traction control-less era unless the protection of the sport's competitors is moved higher up the agenda.

The three-time world drivers' champion was a vociferous campaigner for safety back in his day, and was at the vanguard of a movement that dramatically cut the death count in F1 in the 1960s and 1970s. Prior to Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna's deaths at Imola in 1994, the previous fatality in the sport had been eight years earlier when Elio de Angelis was killed during testing at Paul Ricard.

Following dramatic shunts for both Timo Glock and David Coulthard in the Australian Grand Prix at the weekend, however, Stewart spoke out to express his concerns.

Just six drivers saw the chequered flag Down Under at the end of a chaotic and tumultuous race, as car after car spun off as the ban on driver aids - most prominently traction control and electronic engine braking - led to increased rear wheel-spinning and took a hefty toll.

"Somebody is going to get killed," the 68-year-old insisted in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. "It has been 13 years and eleven months since the death of Ayrton Senna. It's like an air crash - you can't go on without something going wrong somewhere, and somebody will die. There will be even more accidents now traction control is gone, [and] it is going to be a big shock to this fraternity."

The Scot pulled the curtain down on his own career in the top flight following the death of his close friend and Tyrrell team-mate Fran?ois Cevert during practice for the US Grand Prix at Watkins Glen in 1973, and he stressed the importance for Melbourne winner Hamilton to join the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

A number of current drivers - amongst them Jenson Button and Mark Webber - have similarly criticised the McLaren-Mercedes ace's decision to shun the GPDA, who meet regularly at races to discuss safety issues. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher was a director of the organisation, though defending title-holder Kimi Raikkonen, like Hamilton, is not a member.

"It is wrong and complacent of Lewis not to be in the GPDA," Stewart underlined. "I'm surprised and disappointed that [he] has not yet joined. Hamilton has been ill-advised. The one thing you have to have among the competitors is good communication.

"Apart from that you are treated as a group on issues. In my day that was a very important element of getting things done. The GPDA did an immense amount of good.

"The drivers are the ones out there doing it. When you are out there and somebody tells you that, for example, the barriers at Monza do not need to be further from the chicane than they are now, they don't understand that an interlocking wheel suddenly launches a car and you come down upside-down on top of the barrier.

"That's how Francois was killed - he was cut in half. If you have ever seen that you want the barrier further back. That is why the GPDA is important and why Lewis should be in it. I have the highest respect for Lewis - I think he is the best thing since sliced bread, but he is inexperienced.

"Lewis is such a valuable asset to the sport. The media talks to him more than anyone else, and one of the reasons I got so much done in terms of safety was because I was 'the guy' at that time, but you have to prioritise your time. Lewis might have to do commercial appearances for Hugo Boss or whoever, but nobody did more of that than I did.

"The moment somebody dies there is a new awakening. These guys don't know how to deal with a death; they have never been up close. They have never been to a body when it is still in the car, never had to identify a body, never had to pack that person's clothes because the wife or the girlfriend can't face it.

"I pray they never have to learn that, but the law of averages says that when you are doing 200mph, millimetres apart with mechanical failure or human error, you are going to have an accident. Nowadays that's a plane crash. So far we have been incredibly lucky, [but] we are on the slate to have a big shunt."


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