Two Formula 1 experts have expressed their fears that world champion-elect Lewis Hamilton could 'self-destruct' in his bid to 'alienate' himself from his rivals - as the Briton's team principal admitted the 2008 title favourite has an 'attitude'.

Hamilton's 'self-destruct' button was all-too evident at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway last weekend, when in attempting to immediately recover from a poor getaway when the lights went out, the McLaren-Mercedes star left his braking impossibly late into the first corner, setting off a chain reaction of events that would ultimately lead to him walking away from the race empty-handed - and with a reduced margin at the top of the drivers' table.

Some are pointing to uncomfortable echoes of the same stage last year, when nerves, youthful impetuosity and a desire to win races seemingly at any cost got the better of the then F1 rookie and caused him to cede a 17-point advantage over Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to lose the crown at the last gasp in Brazil.

As Hamilton once again sits on pole position for the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai this weekend - scene of arguably his greatest error in 2007, when he beached his car in the pit-lane gravel trap after stubbornly insisting on continuing to battle Raikkonen for the race lead on severely worn tyres and, crucially, when he had no need to, in so doing throwing away ten points that would ultimately prove to be vital - there are concerns that history may just be set to repeat itself.

"Lewis doesn't have to win," stressed 1982 F1 World Championship runner-up John Watson in an interview with the BBC. "He just needs to finish second to [Felipe] Massa, but that is one part of his personality he has to work on.

"He has yet to fully establish his ability to deal with the greatest level of stress and pressure. Part of that is that he has only ever been in a winning car.

"What I'm concerned about is he seemed [in Japan] to delete his brain from its normal programme and put it onto self-destruct. It's all very well to drive like [Ayrton] Senna and [Michael] Schumacher, but they were a bit further down the road when they did it.

"The thing that's going to beat Lewis is he's not just got to race Massa, he's racing the entire field. He needs to stop sending those signals out [where he has] to have a field of competitors, 18 of whom are against him. He must be a target for everyone to make it as difficult as possible for him, and he's brought it all on himself."

The Ulsterman - now heavily involved in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport - added that, in his view, there could be no question about Hamilton's 'flair, talent and courage', but there remain doubts, he argued, about the 23-year-old's mental strength, describing his driving at the start of the race in Fuji as 'stupid, ill-judged and immature'.

"Lewis should do it," Watson underlined. "He's got a five-point advantage and he has a fast car. His natural speed, his qualifying ability - all the known factors say he should do it. The biggest concerns are the unknowns - the other competitors.

"It will come down to his own mind. I'm sure he's not going to do the same as he did in Japan last weekend. There are enough people at McLaren to sit him down and say 'consolidate'. He doesn't need to beat Massa. He just needs to stay ahead.

"If he blows it again this weekend, though, if it goes to Brazil [with Massa ahead], it will be Massa's championship. All I would like see him do is use the brain he's got in an active way and stop trying to do things a Formula Ford driver would do. He can win it, but he's just got to use his brain."

Watson's sentiments were echoed by former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan, who ran his eponymous Jordan Grand Prix outfit in the sport from 1991 until 2005, when he sold out to Midland F1 (now Force India).

Contending that Hamilton's personality is too brash and 'too strong', the 60-year-old suggested the Stevenage-born ace could do a lot worse than to follow the example of former team-mate and bitter rival Fernando Alonso, who secured back-to-back world championships with Renault in 2005 and 2006, and back-to-back grand prix victories for the R?gie in what was far from the best car in Singapore and Japan this year.

"He's alienated the drivers against himself," Jordan told the BBC, "and I think it's a political game as much as it is a talent game. To have Hamilton alienated so a concern, because we all know when you're in a fight you need as many allies as you can possibly find. He has the talent, but he needs to learn the political wrangling of what goes on at grand prix racing.

"He comes across absolutely so strong mentally that he is perhaps, dare I say, even too strong. There's a point where you can actually go too far; there's a point you're perhaps not strong enough.

"Fernando...has won two world championships but, more importantly, has won the last two races with a vastly inferior car. That must tell you something - he's won it with a minimum of fuss, no hysterics and no drama, and this is the problem I have at the moment with Hamilton."

The man himself, however - who has come increasingly under-fire of late from his competitors for what is deemed to be his overly 'aggressive' manner on-track, with Alonso even going so far as to proclaim that he will 'help' Massa to win the title should the opportunity arise - is adamant that he is unfazed by all of the criticism being levelled at him, acknowledging that he neither has nor desires many friendships amongst the other drivers.

"It's been a similar thing my whole career," the eight-time grand prix winner told German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung. "I am not a member of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers' Association) and I don't participate in a lot of other things, so I don't think they can judge me. If they don't like me, it's perhaps because they don't know me.

"For lots of friendships we don't have time. If I was here to make friends, then what they are saying about me would be a lot harder to take. Some like you, others hate you. That's a shame, because we are all people, and we're all here to do our jobs and not to fight."

McLaren team principal Ron Dennis, meanwhile, has waded into the argument by insisting that all 'great champions' have 'attitude', asserting: "Lewis is no different to any of the other great champions in sport - Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe...they all had attitude."


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