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Former F1 champ hails inspirational’ Hamilton

PUBLISHED: 16:59 05 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:40 16 August 2010

World champion: Lewis Hamilton.

World champion: Lewis Hamilton.

A FORMER Formula 1 world champion hailed Lewis Hamilton as an inspiration to a new breed of racing superstars. Bromley-born John Surtees, who won the drivers title in 1964, paid tribute to the British driver following a sensational climax to the F1 seas

A FORMER Formula 1 world champion hailed Lewis Hamilton as an inspiration to a new breed of racing superstars.

Bromley-born John Surtees, who won the drivers' title in 1964, paid tribute to the British driver following a sensational climax to the F1 season on Sunday.

The 23-year-old secured his maiden F1 championship at the Brazilian Grand Prix around the final corner on the last lap of the season finale when he overtook German Timo Glock to secure the four Championship points needed.

Mr Surtees said: "I hope it is a catalyst for getting more young people involved in the sport and giving them a chance to go out there and represent their country."

Surtees, who, like Hamilton, won his title in the final race of the season and remains the only man in history to become a world champion on two wheels and four, said the British driver must now deal with the added pressure of becoming the youngest F1 champion.

"He will now have to embrace all the wealth, luxury and all the hangers-on that come with it," said Surtees. "But he is already a role model to many and he generally handles himself well off the circuit as well as on it.

"There was a lot of criticism flying about about him this year. I'd put that down to jealousy of his driving, his personality and his wealth. A lot of the responsibility for keeping his feet on the ground will be with his family. His father - Anthony - is an intelligent man and will guide him in the right direction.

"He will be key to keeping him in check. He wouldn't be so prominently involved with the team if he didn't have something between the ears. He is not a stupid individual and will know how to deal with these situations.

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