Formula 1 drivers today have no personalities and the only charisma surrounding current world champion Lewis Hamilton is that of his Pussycat Doll pop star girlfriend - that is the outspoken view of 25-time grand prix-winner Niki Lauda.

The triple title-winner - who famously came back from cheating death in a fireball at the N?rburgring in 1976 to clinch his third crown in 1984, seven years on from his previous one - argues that the safety of the sport these days and its PC nature has turned the drivers into faceless robots who lack the passion and character of those from his era.

"When I was racing, everyone was ready to drive over someone else to win," the Austrian told British newspaper the Daily Mirror. "Back then, death was always an option.

"Today's drivers have no idea. Now they drive go-karts until 18 and start an F1 career. They never have a chance to develop a personality."

The 59-year-old was particularly scathing about the sport's newest and youngest-ever world champion, quipping: "The only kind of charisma someone like Lewis Hamilton has is his girl Nicole Scherzinger."