Lewis Hamilton is reaping the rewards of formula one success before he has truly delivered.
That is the claim of 1992 world champion and countryman Nigel Mansell, who told the Daily Telegraph that the gushing British media also went wild for Jenson Button long before the Englishman had won his solitary race.
“What can you say?” Mansell, who is now pushing on the single seater careers of his sons Leo and Greg, said.
“We had to win races and challenge for championships before we got the rewards. Now you seem to get the rewards before you achieve.”
Mansell insisted that he has no hard feelings for Hamilton, but credited much of the 22-year-old rookie’s impressive debut so far in 2007 to McLaren.
He commented: “McLaren have been way overdue for success. Timing is everything. When a driver can arrive with a team and an engine coming right, it makes a difference. No disrespect to him.”
But Mansell hints that Hamilton’s immaculate preparation for F1, since first meeting Ron Dennis at the age of 10, makes comparisons with earlier greats unsuitable.
“I think it was ordained,” he said, comparing Lewis’ full McLaren sponsorship through his junior career to Mansell’s selling of a house to fund a Formula 3 seat — only to be fired.
Mansell said: “My story was a lot harder.”