Damon Hill has backed Lewis Hamilton's decision to leave McLaren, where he was "managed to within an inch of his life."
On Friday it was confirmed that Hamilton would be leaving McLaren at the end of this season, heading to Mercedes in a three-year deal believed to be worth as much as £60million.
Some questions have been raised about whether Hamilton has made the right decision with McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh blatantly saying it is a "mistake."
However, Hill, who won the 1996 World Championship title with Williams, believes the 27-year-old has made the right call.
"Lewis has been like a caged bird at McLaren," Hill told the Daily Mail.
"He'd been managed to within an inch of his life. I can't blame him for looking to move elsewhere. Lewis needed to leave McLaren to stretch his wings."
Sticking issues between Hamilton and McLaren related to who keeps the winner's trophy, something McLaren insist on doing, and also advertising space on his race-suit.
Hill added that the apparent attitude that a driver is just a "hired hand" played a role in Hamilton's decision to walk away.
"I could never get my head around the logic that the team takes the driver's trophy.
"It's the principle, not the trophy, that is at stake. After you have won a Championship, and jumped through a lot of hoops, there is a point when you think: "This is my life". You can have a bellyful of becoming a performing seal. You don't want to be on probation for your whole career.
"Of course, you still have to fight inside the car; but there is a time when, surely, you have proved you can motivate yourself. These are things Lewis has tried to balance.
"This is quite a shift in the power balance in Formula One. It shows a driver is a more important ingredient in the sport than the teams like to think.
"Formula One would do well to remember the public relates to a driver's career path more than any team with the exception of Ferrari. The rest are just operations. To the public, the sport is about the drivers.
"There is a huge disconnect between the philosophy of a team and a driver. Drivers just want to race, they don't see Formula One as a marketing exercise or product development. To a team, a driver is a hired hand. But drivers have a right to a career path. They don't belong to a team."
Hill, though, did acknowledge the fact that moving to Mercedes, who have won just one grand prix in the three years since purchasing the Brawn GP team, is "a risk.
"Mercedes don't have a track record like McLaren but, as a driver in Formula One, you have to look at what's coming down the track a couple of years ahead. It will be interesting to see how Mercedes up."