Stewart: Hamilton can afford to lose title

Former world champion Jackie Stewart reckons Lewis Hamilton could actually benefit from losing this year's title

Stewart: Hamilton can afford to lose title

With a four-point lead going into this weekend's deciding race at Interlagos, Hamilton has a strong chance of becoming the first rookie to win the Formula One crown.

Stewart said he hoped Hamilton clinched the championship in Brazil, but added that it would not be a disaster for the 22-year-old Briton if he lost out to Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen this time.

"It wouldn't be the end of the world if he didn't win it, but I really hope he does it," said Stewart while promoting his new autobiography.

"I don't think it would be a disaster. It would be a hell of a disappointment for him, but it wouldn't do him any harm.

"He would learn and it would give him more time to distil what has happened this year."

Stewart also believes that the PR commitments that Hamilton is likely to face as champion could prove draining.

"If he wins the championship he could have a worse winter," said Stewart. "It's going to be a busy winter anyway, but at least he won't be touring countries around the world.

"By the time I got [to be champion] I knew how to do that. I was having breakfast in Brazil, lunch in Venezuela and dinner in Colombia. Niki Lauda did that too. And we were already mature guys, but it was still exhausting."

The triple champion added that Hamilton's retirement from the Chinese Grand Prix was an example of how his driving would improve with experience - as he suspects a more established driver would have insisted on changing tyres sooner.

"After I'd won the world championship in 1973 and we went to Montreal, I thought I had a tyre with the canvas coming through," Stewart recalled.

"Think back to Lewis in China. I came in because I didn't think I could risk it disintegrating. It was actually paint on the tyre, but I didn't know that. I was imagining it wasn't handling as well. I couldn't take the risk.

"If Lewis was three years older he would have made the call. You can't go from kindergarten to university. No disrespect, but he hasn't yet got the confidence to say 'hey, the tyre might explode'.

"He nearly went off the road anyway and he was losing masses of time. We all saw it. He would have made that call as a more mature driver."

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