Hamilton 'must focus on racing'
Sir Jackie Stewart has urged Lewis Hamilton not to get carried away with his own celebrity if he is to propel Mercedes forward this year.
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Hamilton last week embarked on a new era in his Formula One career at Mercedes after six seasons with McLaren, a team he initially joined at the age of just 13.
There is no doubt Hamilton has taken a significant gamble, but the need to savour pastures new has been his driving force in signing up to the German manufacturing giant for the next three years.
It is also almost certain Hamilton will enjoy greater freedom off track than was the case at McLaren, considering the emphasis placed on sponsorship commitments by the Woking-based marque on their drivers.
However, three-times champion Stewart feels Hamilton needs to make sure such liberty does not go to his head.
Hamilton can boast a pop-star girlfriend in Nicole Scherzinger and an array of friends from the music world, while there are suggestions he is planning on making his own music.
Bearing in mind Hamilton's desire to transform Mercedes into a winning team, Stewart is hoping the 28-year-old does not let his focus drift elsewhere.
Stewart said: "Personally, if I'd been Lewis, I wouldn't have left McLaren.
"But as a 28-year-old, he should know what he is doing now.
"You just have to be damn careful you don't get carried away with your own importance, your own celebrity, or your own schedule outside of being in the cockpit. It can be quite intoxicating.
"What Lewis needs to do is have more consistently good drives, never mind the mechanical issues, and he shouldn't be distracted, something he should keep in the back of his mind.
"It's about who you hang out with, what you do in your off time, how you are committing your off time towards your real time - and your real time is being a racing driver."
Such efforts will be noticed by team principal Ross Brawn, who has been accustomed to working with one of the greats in seven-times champion Michael Schumacher.
Although the last three years failed to produce the results hoped for by Schumacher prior to stepping back into retirement, the German was renowned for his meticulous and methodical nature in working with his engineers.
Stewart added: "The Ross Brawn factor is important.
"He knows how to do it, and Lewis will have to work with him and depend on him, and Lewis, in time, will have to deliver.
"Ross has worked with drivers who have really delivered. He worked with Schumacher from Benetton all the way through, and he knows how much Michael put in.
"Therefore he will think Lewis will have to put as much into that team, time-wise, commitment-wise, not just race-time wise, as Michael did.
"That's going to be quite demanding, but there's no reason why he shouldn't go straight in and be competitive up front, not at all."
With just one victory in the last three years, though, since Mercedes returned to F1, the pressure is on both Brawn and Hamilton to deliver.
"Daimler (Mercedes' parent company), are only interested in being up front and being the best," said Stewart.
"If they're not going to be that, it's a five-minute decision for the Mercedes-Benz board to withdraw from motor racing if there's another recession and they're not selling cars.
"In that respect, they're slightly vulnerable."