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Lewis Hamilton will win eight F1 world titles: Alain Prost

Renault's adviser believes Mercedes' champion can surpass Schumacher's record

Four-time Formula One world champion Alain Prost said he can see Lewis Hamilton stretching his own title tally to eight easily, judging from the first two races of the season.

Hamilton already has six, one short of Ferrari great Michael Schumacher's record.

Prost said Hamilton, whose victory in last Sunday's Styrian Grand Prix in Austria was the 85th of his career, was only getting stronger.

"The more stable he is in a team, the more stable he is in his life, you can see that he is better," the 65-year-old Renault F1 adviser told Reuters on Wednesday, ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.

"To beat Lewis for a world championship, especially with that car and the team he has now, is going to be very difficult. Almost impossible in normal circumstances," added the Frenchman, representing the team's Dubai-based title sponsor DP World.

Asked how many titles the 35-year-old Briton might ultimately claim, Prost - whose fourth in 1993 was something extraordinary at the time - considered the evidence.

"He has six. I would say eight, easy," he declared. "I cannot see anybody (else) winning this year. Maybe (teammate and championship leader) Valtteri (Bottas). It depends how many races you have and if you miss one or two because you have a mechanical problem, you never know. He's in the same car.

"But... I cannot see another car winning (a championship) against a Mercedes this year and next year. After, I don't know. Maybe Renault."

Renault's 2005 and 2006 world champion Fernando Alonso will return next year after two seasons out and Prost expected the Spaniard, who turns 39 later this month, to be still as fiercely competitive and motivated.

"Fernando was one of the three top drivers we were talking to - Sebastian (Vettel) and Valtteri also. But Valtteri is driving a Mercedes, it's difficult for him to leave the Mercedes team at the moment," said Prost.

"We did not know exactly what was the motivation of Sebastian... but Fernando has always shown his motivation to come back to the team. Even last year, in Abu Dhabi, we had a long discussion with him."

FIRED UP

Alonso will replace Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who is moving to McLaren next year. Four-time champion Vettel faces an uncertain future, with Ferrari announcing his departure at the end of this year.

Prost said he could see Alonso was fired up for a new challenge after difficult years with McLaren, following disappointment in five years at Ferrari.

"He knows what he's going to get in terms of performance of the car, he knows that 2021 is also going to be a little bit difficult," said Prost.

"He's prepared for that... I really think he's going to be very different than people understand." - REUTERS

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