Former F1 champion Nigel Mansell has warned Lewis Hamilton against leaving McLaren

Lewis Hamilton has been warned by former world champions Jacques Villeneuve and Nigel Mansell against being tempted to leave McLaren for the chance of a Red Bull Racing car

Former F1 champion Nigel Mansell has warned Lewis Hamilton against leaving McLaren

The Briton, whose future has been the subject of speculation since AUTOSPORT revealed he held private talks with Red Bull team principal Christian Horner in Canada, continues to be linked with a switch to that outfit when his current contract ends.

But Mansell, who won his only world title with Williams in 1992, urged Hamilton against making a mistake by walking out on McLaren.

Asked if he would be tempted by a drive with Red Bull in Hamilton's position, Mansell said: "First of all he would have to be fortunate enough to be offered one.

"But for me Lewis has had an amazing career with McLaren and I think as Michael Schumacher proved by staying with Ferrari, if you can have the support of a team totally behind you, then build on that year on year," he added. "He [Hamilton] hasn't exactly had a drought, McLaren is a fantastic team.

"Personally I would stay with McLaren and all the people who had supported him, through thick and thin, I think it might be a mistake if he changes teams."

Villeneuve, who never won another grand prix after leaving Williams at the end of 1998 - a year after his championship season - added that he believed McLaren not only offered Hamilton unmatchable career stability but that the 26-year-old risked being put in an irretrievable situation should he join Red Bull alongside Sebastian Vettel.

"No way, he would be taken there just to pump the image of Vettel," said the Canadian when asked if he thought Hamilton should switch camps. "Why should he go there? He's protected at McLaren, they love him there, they gave him his career, he should be thankful.

"He should never have the right to be angry at them for anything. Without them he would never have raced, he would never have had a career even in the smaller categories. So, be happy.

"But talks about moving to another team can be used to raise your salaries and a lot of things, so it's good and you need to do that, but you might be in a year where other teams don't have a seat available and it's very rare what Ferrari did when they got rid of Kimi Raikkonen.

"That doesn't happen often and you really have to dislike the driver to do that. That really doesn't happen very often."

Regardless of which team Hamilton ends up with, both Mansell and Villeneuve concurred that Lewis needed to think more about his racecraft when passing rivals having been mixed up in on-track incidents at several races this season.

"He [Hamilton] seems to have gone backwards in his evolution which is a little bit strange, because last year he had calmed down," said Villeneuve, at the announcement of the new Williams-Renault partnership. "He was still aggressive but he seemed to me, it looked like that he was thinking a lot more, but this year he left his brain at home.

"He's super aggressive, he's fun to watch, I don't want him to change, it's great. He's the only action there is in the race, everybody else uses the DRS and it's boring, it's useless. But he actually goes for it, it's great.

Once in a while though, he should think a little bit because they are not clever moves. It's okay to be aggressive, but not if it catches you out as well, and he gets caught out himself - that's when it's a mistake."

Asked if he believed Hamilton needed to change his competitive mindset, Mansell, who is the driver steward at this weekend's British Grand Prix, replied: "No, I don't think so. Lewis is a racer and a fighter. The thing he hasn't got quite right is when you pass people just try not to knock 'em off! That's the only thing.

"Still go for the gaps, but give them a little room and don't do it on corners where there's no recovery. People are there to race, just like he is. You know he is a great racer and he has just got get it a bit more right than what he has done in the last few races."

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