Lewis Hamilton's 'novelty' value in Formula 1 will soon wear off - that is the view of Mark Webber, who insisted the McLaren-Mercedes star could in no way even begin to be compared with any of the sport's multiple world champions yet awhile.

The 23-year-old came into the top flight in a blaze of glory last year, storming to four victories and the runner-up spot in the title chase having led the way for the majority of his maiden campaign. Despite the fact that Hamilton is once again atop the drivers' standings with two races completed in 2008, Webber insists he should be prepared for the attention - and the success - not to last.

"His career has gone off like a rocket ship but it won't always be like that," the Red Bull Racing ace told The Independent newspaper. "He's young and he's black which makes him unique in this sport, but that's got a shelf life. He won't stop being black but it will stop being a novelty.

"He'll find that some of the column inches, maybe even this season, are totally negative and totally incorrect. That's not easy to deal with."

Webber also questioned the British fans' and media's obsession with Hamilton, stressing that speaking about him in the same breath as seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher and others is more than a little premature.

"Look, he's talented, we all know that," the Aussie acknowledged, "but he's been in the sport for five minutes. People compare him with Schumacher. There is no comparison.

"When he wins the championship, then he's got six more to win before he can be compared to Schumacher. Yeah, he had a great first year - it was extraordinary what he did - but great sports stars are measured by their longevity...Pele, Steffi Graf, whoever."

The 31-year-old has also been seeking to clarify recent criticism over Hamilton's failure to join the Grand Prix Drivers' Association [see separate story - click here], claiming his absence was 'not a big deal' and underlining his belief that the Briton would 'come in eventually'. Currently, neither Hamilton nor reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen are a part of the drivers' body that meets regularly to discuss safety and other important issues within the sport.

"The first thing to say is that it has been blown totally out of proportion," Webber said in his column for the BBC. "Because of his [Hamilton's] position in the sport, everything is put under the microscope, and given time I believe he will want to be a member.

"The GPDA is an important organisation. I'm one of the two directors of it, along with Fernando [Alonso], while Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren's test driver, is the chairman. Our job is to represent the drivers in discussions with the FIA on safety issues - circuit design, safety cars, driving in the rain and so on.

"It is good for us to be involved in these discussions, because we're the ones driving the cars - we know what we're going through out there. We have a voice and it is an important one.

"Although it would be great to have Lewis there, at the moment it's not a big deal that he isn't. He's not the only one - Kimi Raikkonen, Adrian Sutil and Anthony Davidson are also not members.

"There's no doubt that if Lewis and Kimi - as the two guys fighting for the championship - were in it, it would give us a bit more cement under our feet, but I'm not too worried about it. It doesn't make it any more difficult to get things pushed through, but it would give us a bit more unity.

"We have a lot of respect between the drivers and we have come up with some good ideas, and our relationship with the FIA race director Charlie Whiting has never been better.

"Kimi's not interested in that sort of thing - that's just the way he is - but Lewis is a different character. I'm sure he will come in eventually, and when he does, he'll be happy to get involved."