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'Hamilton can match Schumacher'

January 27, 2009 11:49 IST

McLaren's Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton can go on to match or even surpass Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles, according to new team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

"Oh yes, he clearly has the potential to do that," Whitmarsh, who will take the helm from Ron Dennis before the season starts in March, told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.

"He won't talk about it because he's too modest, and what Michael did is extraordinary. But with great champions you don't want to match it, you want to beat it.

"The key thing about Lewis is that he's still very young and he hasn't reached the peak of his powers as a racing driver," Whitmarsh added of the 24-year-old Briton.

"That must be very worrying for his competitors."

Hamilton, the youngest Formula One world champion, said at the unveiling of his new car last week that he would be starting the new season in a more relaxed mood and with his goals reset "back to where I started out in Formula One".

Whitmarsh said Hamilton, who won the title by a single point despite winning fewer races than Ferrari's Brazilian Felipe Massa, is determined to win the title again to show that he is a worthy champion.

"We'll see what happens after that. But I think he can do whatever he wants because the immense pressure he was under last year has been released," he added. "We should be in for quite a journey."

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