Two-time Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi believes Lewis Hamilton would have been a superstar in any previous era of the sport's history.
This year Hamilton wrapped up a fourth world championship, his third in four seasons, to move joint-third with Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel on the all-time list of titles. Fittipaldi, who won titles in 1972 and 1974, thinks Hamilton could have competed with anyone on F1's long list of previous champions.
"From my perspective for sure the top group is Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart because he's my age, and Ayrton Senna, because of my friendship with him as a Brazilian," Fittipaldi told Motorsport.com. "If you get the top three or four drivers in grand prix racing, and make a time machine, and for example have Lewis come back to my time, driving my McLaren or my JPS Lotus, he'd be tough for me to beat. And for Jackie Stewart. No doubt about it, he'd be one of the top guys."
Hamilton's recent success has seen him live up to the hype and promise which always accompanied his junior career, becoming the most successful of Britain's 10 world champions in the process. Fittipaldi says it was always obvious Hamilton was destined to be something special and thinks F1 is lucky to have someone who reaches such a wide audience.
"I like Lewis, I think he's one of the top guys in grand prix racing and he deserves the championship for sure. I've followed him since the first time I watched him in F3 in Germany many, many years ago.
"I think he's a fantastic driver. He's extremely talented, and he has a great style of driving that I like. He's very aggressive at overtaking people. He's good for motorsport, he puts on a great show. We need this in grand prix racing, we're missing action, and he's the action man!
"He's a fantastic ambassador for England, and he's the first British driver to win the title four times. I think he's capable of reaching a public much bigger than we can reach, and can make the sport much more popular."