Lewis Hamilton 'can challenge Michael Schumacher's F1 record'

    (CNN)Michael Schumacher's record of seven world championships has now been standing for 11 years, but Lewis Hamilton could eventually challenge that Formula One milestone, according to one of Britain's greatest drivers.

    Hamilton has won two titles -- last year and in 2008 -- and has a 10-point lead from second-placed Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg after eight of 19 races this season.
    "I see no reason whatsoever that he can't start approaching and getting closer and closer to Michael's record," 1992 championship winner Nigel Mansell told CNN's The Circuit ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.
      "I think it depends on Mercedes, the support that he gets and that he doesn't lose his focus."
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      There has never been an era of dominance like Schumacher's between 2000 and 2004, winning five consecutive titles.
      Sebastian Vettel and Juan Manuel Fangio both recorded four successive championships but only one other driver -- Alain Prost -- has even achieved four career triumphs.
      "It's a long way off -- seven world championships is huge," said the 61-year-old Mansell said of Hamilton's challenge. "He should win number three this year, so he's almost halfway there.
      "But I think the dedication and the might of Mercedes -- and if the regulations stay similar and he keeps his focus -- I think many more can follow."
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      Now 30, Hamilton still has five years before he reaches the age at which Schumacher won his final world championship -- and nine drivers older than the German was in 2004 have also triumphed.
      Notably, Argentinian legend Fangio won the drivers' championship at 46 in 1957, while Mansell claimed his only title at the age of 39.
      Hamilton was fourth in his first season at Mercedes in 2013 after replacing Schumacher at the German team, which tempted the veteran out of retirement when it returned to F1 five years ago.
      "I think that the fantastic thing with Lewis is the world is at his feet," Mansell said. "Lewis is transcending into an amazing world figure for Formula One.
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      "He has an incredible manufacturer with Mercedes behind him, he is being supported to repeat his world championships and I see that going on for many years, as with Michael Schumacher with Ferrari.
      "Some people are destined to get that support and Lewis is certainly one of them. Embrace it Lewis, don't waste it and get as many world championships as you can!"
      Mansell fondly recalls his memories playing five-a-side football and cricket matches with British fans while he was camped out in tents or caravans at Silverstone preparing for the weekend's race.
      Despite their excitement at being able to interact with some of the country's best-loved athletes, the fans were respectful of privacy when the drivers needed to eat or sleep -- even acting as security in their thousands.
      However, he feels Hamilton has yet to endear himself to the British public as he and the other drivers did two or three decades ago.
      "Lewis is a different character. I think it's a different era we're racing in now -- we were more gladiatorial back in the '80s and early '90s," he said.
      "Mainly because the circuits and the cars were a little bit trickier to drive, there were not the runoffs and we had a lot more danger.
      "With that came a bit more respect for the job and of the drivers."
      Hamilton won his home race for the second time last year, while his first victory there also coincided with a championship-winning season for the Englishman.
      Three of Mansell's 31 career victories were at Silverstone, and one when the British Grand Prix was at Brands Hatch in 1986.
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      He says the present atmosphere at the British GP is not as exciting as when he was racing.
      "One year there was a quarter of a million fans over the weekend. Now with health and safety, they're limited to 80-90,000 fans which is a bit of a shame," Mansell said.
      "But it's just a fantastic weekend. It was the one race a year that the British fans are so, so important and they come to embrace it.
      "I just hope that Lewis can deliver again at the British Grand Prix, and I'm sure he will."