Mika Hakkinen believes that newly crowned Formula 1 World champion Lewis Hamilton has the potential to become the greatest driver ever.

Hamilton has taken the F1 world by storm since making his debut last year and following a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix, the Englishman came through to beat Felipe Massa and clinch the title that he so nearly took at Interlagos twelve months before.

Speaking to British newspaper, The Times, Hakkinen added that while Lewis will make mistakes, he is still relatively inexperienced and will only get better in 2009 and beyond.

"You have got a good guy there. Lewis is so talented and, better than that, he is a great guy with a great personality," the two-time world champion and ex-McLaren-Mercedes man told the 'paper.

"He is going to be a great role model for kids around the world. I don't think you could find a better guy than him anywhere.

"Lewis drives so fast, he is always going to make mistakes. But driving like that makes anything possible. Believe me, this guy is good. He is a young guy, he is with a great team and he has shown great commitment to the team for a long period. He has a fantastic fitness programme so that he will have the energy to drive for years to maximise his performance for a long time to come. I just do not see why he cannot become the best there is.

"He is only in his second year in Formula One and that is a very high-pressure environment. But he deals with it. He has youth and talent on his side. He can be the greatest."

Hakkinen meanwhile was guest of honour at the Daytona track in Milton Keynes on Wednesday for the official launch of Laureus MotorV8, a motor sport-based project, supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

Laureus MotorV8 is a programme which aims to broaden the mechanical skills of young people who have had problems to improve their employability and provide a diversionary activity for them, both inside and outside school hours. Participants include drug users, young offenders and those with physical disabilities. The young people, aged 13-15, chosen for this project, are elected by schools and youth groups in and around Oxford.

"I am particularly proud to be here today since it is my first official Laureus Sport for Good Foundation visit and of course because it has a motor based theme," added the Finn. "More importantly, this project really shows the Laureus mission at work in the best possible way.

"This is a wonderful programme that demonstrates how the power of sport can make a difference to young people's lives. This programme has very good elements because it encourages young people to interact, work as a team and gives them practical experience. For me being part of a team was one of the most important aspects during my F1 career and it was great to see how it has been used to motivate these young people."

Hakkinen was joined at the event by three fellow Laureus World Sports Academy members - namely legendary tennis player Boris Becker, former All Blacks rugby captain Sean Fitzpatrick and Argentina's Hugo Porta, who has just been elected to the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame. The four presented Laureus MotorV8 with a cheque for E100,000 to help fund its activities.


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