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Formula 1 News - March, 2008
Hamilton let 'ego' sour title tilt - Briatore

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Mar.11 (GMM) Lewis Hamilton wasted his opportunity to learn from a double world champion, and lost the 2007 title because his inflated "ego" got the better of him.

That is the assessment of team boss Flavio Briatore, who for 2008 has reunited his Renault team with Fernando Alonso after the Spaniard fell out with McLaren last year.

The Italian equates Hamilton's narrow defeat in becoming the first rookie world champion with his failure to get along with Alonso, the drivers' title winner of 2005 and 2006.

"Hamilton had a very good possibility to learn. When you are a rookie you need to take that opportunity. He had the chance to drive with somebody very special in Fernando.

"Hamilton is very young and the talent is there but he lost this opportunity," Briatore told the Guardian newspaper.

"As a rookie you should work for the team. Your team consists of 1000 people working together to put two cars on the grid. You need to respect these people behind you -- and not only your ego."

Briatore suggests that the infighting, and the resulting loss of the titles, was an insult to McLaren's other workers.

"I feel sorry for the employees of McLaren -- it was terrible. It was important for McLaren to win the drivers' championship but they missed the opportunity. Because of this fight they finished with nothing," he said.

Briatore does not agree that Hamilton's inflated ego last year can be compared to Alonso's, who complained throughout his short McLaren stint that he was not fairly treated.

"When you want the world champion in your team, and you fight to take him away from Renault, you then need to protect him when he joins you," he said.

Briatore insists that McLaren blatantly favoured Hamilton last year.

"(Hamilton) was born in this team. He has been driving 10 years with McLaren so that is normal.

"But what is less normal is when you see Hamilton in pole position and everyone at McLaren is jumping like crazy. If pole was for Fernando then everyone was like this (claps politely)."

Briatore even denies that the events of a recent Barcelona test, where Hamilton - F1's only black driver - was taunted by Alonso's supporters, was a case of racism.

"It was four imbeciles in the middle of 30,000 people," he said.

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