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Former world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has tipped Australian Mark Webber to reach the top of Formula One but warned his fans he needs time to bed in at Williams before he starts to see success.

Stewart, who is involved with Williams through his relationship with team sponsors the Royal Bank of Scotland, has followed Webber closely throughout his career and believes he has the talent to go far.

But he said: "Give him time. That's my message to the Australian people. Give him time, and I think you'll see the lad soon start to deliver. I think he's one of the great potentials in the sport today.

"He's 28 years of age, he already has a very mature mind and I don't think there's any doubt that Williams has invested in Mark, and not just for a one-year contract."

Webber spent the last two years with the now-defunct Jaguar Racing team after making his debut with Minardi in 2002 but he has finally moved to a top team that he hopes will justify his expected talent.

Stewart revealed to Melbourne newspaper The Age that the pair meet "quite often" and added: "He lives nearby and comes over for dinner. We see a lot of each other. I like him, just as an individual, apart from anything else.

"Motor racing is common ground for us and is something we talk about quite passionately. His strength is his mind. He's got a lot of enthusiasm. He's got a lot of focus. He's got a lot of commitment.

"He's a very good natural driver, there's no doubt about that, but his mind is his best asset. He's incredibly fit, he's one of the two or three fittest racing drivers in the world today.

"My recent advice to him is to give himself time, to feel his way into the new team and give himself the opportunity to develop into a world player. You've got to be able to thread the needle consistently and he has that potential."

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