Although Red Bull’s Max Verstappen has overtaken Lewis Hamilton for the championship lead by just 6 points, the 1997 World Champion believes the points don’t reflect the reality of the title battle.
Jacques Villeneuve is of the opinion that the gap between Verstappen and Hamilton should have been a lot bigger and in Max’s favour. The former World Champion has been critical of Max in the past. However, this season has changed his opinion on the young Dutch driver.
He speculated that Hamilton has been very lucky this season. The pressure is building on Mercedes to give a befitting reply to the Redbull threat and small cracks are beginning to appear in the Brixworth based team’s camp, according to Villeneuve.
”The points in the standings do not reflect the real situation,”
“Lewis Hamilton made a lot of mistakes and paid a low price, unlike Max Verstappen. I think about what happened to him in Hungary and before that at Silverstone,” said Villeneuve, referencing the many instances where bad luck got the better of Verstappen.
“Of course, so far Verstappen and Red Bull’s season has been simply perfect, while I see fatigue in Lewis and his team. Strategies? In the past, Mercedes didn’t need to get them right because they won anyway.”
Verstappen has led more laps than the rest of the grid combined this season 🤯 pic.twitter.com/XfDFSMEOCH
— ESPN F1 (@ESPNF1) October 14, 2021
Villeneuve elaborated further by comparing Mercedes’ form to that of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari in the early 2000s. “Everyone said they (Ferrari) were geniuses, even when the strategy was wrong, but they were so much stronger that they won anyway.”
He also mentioned that he believed Hamilton’s relations with his team may be turning more stressful with the pressure being applied by the Redbull campaign this season.
“Moreover, driver and team do not seem to be as united as before.”
Can Mercedes fight back?
Villeneuve believes that Mercedes cannot be discounted from this contest just yet. “In Turkey Lewis had the most extensive wing, and yet on the straights no one could keep up with him.
Maybe they’ve upped the engine power since there are only a few races left. And if they keep it until the end of the season… Hamilton will do well in Austin and Brazil with that engine, which will be an incredible help, ” summarised the French Champion.