Nigel Mansell backs Lewis Hamilton to challenge Michael Schumacher's title haul

Nigel Mansell backs Lewis Hamilton to challenge Michael Schumacher's title haul

Lewis Hamilton will get “very close” to matching Michael Schumacher’s record haul of seven Formula One titles, according to Nigel Mansell.

Hamilton joined the pantheon of all-time grand prix greats by winning his third championship in Austin’s rain-hit race on Sunday.

He is now among just 10 drivers to have won the title on more than two occasions, and is the first British driver to successfully defend his crown.

By winning in the United States, Hamilton also became the first in grand prix history to claim 10 or more victories in successive seasons.

And Mansell, the 1992 world champion, believes Schumacher’s incredible record of seven championships is in sight for Hamilton.

“I think he will get very close if he has the backing,” Mansell told Press Association Sport ahead of this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.

“There are great champions that win world championships, but they don’t get an opportunity to defend them or then go on to win multiple world championships.

“Lewis has done something really special because he has got himself in a position with the team he came into Formula One with at McLaren, and then going with Mercedes has just been wonderful.

“It is an absolutely outstanding and fantastic achievement. He should be on top of the world and next year as well.”

After a 23-year absence from the calendar, the sport of Formula One is back in Mexico for the 17th round of this season’s championship.

And Mansell, who was the last driver to win here, has been welcomed back with open arms. The Briton is best remembered in these parts for his brilliant move around the outside of Gerhard Berger at the hell-raising Peraltada turn in 1990 - a section of track now deemed too dangerous by modern Formula One standards.

As such, the layout has been revised to incorporate a slower, stadium section, but the final turn of the revamped Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has been named in Mansell’s honour.

“It is absolutely fantastic and brilliant to have a bit of history and be part of the opening of the new circuit,” said Mansell, who earlier this week was hailed as a “hero” in Mexico by Force India driver Sergio Perez.

“Sergio is an incredible driver, gentleman and great representative of his country so that is a nice, warm feeling. Obviously overtaking Gerhard, doing a nutty move like that, probably does not hurt either.”

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