Two of the most iconic figures in British motorsport have pledged their support to Lewis Hamilton's bid to become the 2008 Formula 1 Drivers' Champion after missing out on this year's title by a single point.

Mechanical glitches cost Hamilton the chance to become the first rookie to win the Formula 1 World Championship, forcing him to concede the title to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

A sensation in his home country alone, the huge crowd at Silverstone this year was testament to the rise the youngster has experienced this year but while he will not celebrate the title, former champion Damon Hill and commentator Murray Walker believe he will come good in 2008.

Hill, the last British driver to win the World title in 1996 and British Racing Drivers' Club President, admits he was disappointed to see Hamilton lose the lead of the standings in the final race of the season, but is confident he will be back stronger than ever next year.

"I would have loved to see Lewis win today. He will be disappointed, but he will regroup quite quickly. Lewis has shown more potential as a newcomer this year than any rookie driver has ever done. He has shown that he is a serious contender. This has been the best F1 season in a very long time; it is great for the sport.

"I hope that Lewis wins the championship next year. He started as a novice and ended up missing out on the title by one point. We should celebrate this great performance and achievement. The worrying thing for the other drivers is that he's only going to get better. He'll get a fantastic reception wherever he goes next year, none more so than at his home race. We're all looking forward to 2008 and a very exciting British Grand Prix at Silverstone."

Legendary commentator Walker echoed Hill's sentiments, claiming that Hamilton's runner-up position is still something to be immensely proud off given his age and experience.

"Kimi was worthy of the title but I'm sorry for Lewis. He has had a fantastic first year in Formula One, leading the championship until the last race of the season - which is quite an achievement for a 22 year old.

"For someone who is usually very focused, I think the pressure got to him and it was his bad start that cost him the race. If he hadn't had gearbox problems and a bad start he could have been World Champion.

"The future for Lewis Hamilton is gigantically bright and this is only his first year in F1. He has a gift for turning negatives into positives, is enormously sensible and well balanced and will be even stronger for next year. It's not a question of if Lewis can win a World Championship it's when and we look forward to a record crowd at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix next year."

 

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