Mar.3 (GMM) Four time world champion Alain Prost has earmarked Heikki Kovalainen as a potential threat to Lewis Hamilton's stated ambition to win the world championship this year.
Paddock speculation indicates that, after the departure of Fernando Alonso, Hamilton is now very much considered the McLaren team's de-facto 'number one' driver.
But Prost, the winner of 51 grands prix and F1's most successful driver excluding Michael Schumacher, is also predicting a strong season for Alonso's Finnish successor.
"Hamilton must not be complacent as Kovalainen will certainly be a very tough cookie," the Frenchman and former grand prix team owner told Italy's Autosprint magazine last month.
"Where the championship is concerned, the Finn looks definitely dangerous," Prost added, also agreeing that there will be "more pressure" on Hamilton now that his meteoric rookie season is over.
According to 23-year-old Hamilton, meanwhile, the Briton is under no illusions that the occupant of the sister MP4-23 will do anything other than push him in 2008.
"I have no doubt in my mind that Heikki's going to be one of the quickest guys there," he is quoted as saying by the news agency Reuters.