Fernando Alonso has joined the chorus suggesting that the seemingly uncharacteristic mistakes being made by Lewis Hamilton are a truer reflection of life in Formula One than the Briton's mega debut season.

The pair were never close during the brief partnership at McLaren last season, so the Spaniard's comments probably have a little 'edge' to them, but the now Renault driver reckons that Hamilton's 2008 performances are more 'normal' than those of last year.

Although the Briton opened the campaign with a comfortable victory in Melbourne, and has since added to it with a maiden win on the hallowed streets of Monaco, his season has been punctuated with errors, from running into the back of Alonso while trying to make up for a bad start in Bahrain to ramming title rival Kimi Raikkonen in the pit-lane in Canada last weekend.

The latter indiscretion, while provoking differing views according to who is favoured by the speaker, has landed Hamilton with a ten-place grid penalty for this weekend's French Grand Prix, hampering his chances of victory and catching new points leader Robert Kubica, while also likely to drop him behind Alonso for the start at Magny-Cours, despite the Spaniard struggling at Renault.

"The errors don't surprise me," Alonso claimed, "The results that were strange were the nine podiums in his first nine races last year - that required some element of luck, and wasn't all down to the driver. This year is more normal."

Another multiple world champion, Sir Jackie Stewart, has also suggested that it is not unusual for Hamilton to be making mistakes, adding last year's gaffe in China to the list.

Jackie Stewart has blamed inexperience for Lewis Hamilton's pit-lane gaffe in Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix, claiming that, for all his front-running expertise, the Briton still has learning to do.

"It comes down to inexperience," triple champion Stewart told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper in the wake of the Canadian farce, "It could only be expected - he has only been in Formula One for 15 months."