Former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve feels that Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton is finding it difficult to adjust to the Mercedes W13 since he has had perfect cars in the recent past. However, the manner in which George Russell has adapted shows that he is adapting far better.
Speaking after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Villeneuve was candid in his assessment of the seven-time world champion Hamilton as well as Mercedes.
Ever since the turbo-hybrid era started in 2014, Mercedes has by far been the strongest team on the circuit. This season, though, they have found it difficult to keep pace with Ferrari and Red Bull. Hamilton recently even said that he was struggling to outmuscle Haas.
“It is clear – Mercedes has fallen from its pedestal. For years they were superior, bad weekends could be camouflaged by their strong engine, but that is no longer the case,” Villeneuve said.
“It will be interesting what the response will be in the team, because Toto Wolff and Lewis Hamilton are not used to this.
“We can say that competing for the prizes is no longer an option for Mercedes,” the 50-year-old said.
Russell more adept at handling car: Villeneuve
“George Russell can still handle the car to some degree. Maybe that’s because of his years at Williams where he also had to drive a difficult car,” Villeneuve added.
“But Lewis Hamilton is not coping at all. He’s always had a perfect car, he never had to push because they were so much faster. In the race yesterday he did alright, but on Saturday he was nowhere to be seen.
“The car does not seem to suit his driving style at the moment. You can make an engine stronger, but you can’t get extra horsepower that easily, and if the chassis won’t cooperate you have a problem.
“The championship is a long way off for them. By the time they are competitive again, Leclerc and Verstappen will be much too far away.
“It will be interesting to see how the team responds. And what about at Mercedes HQ and at the offices of the sponsors, they are not used to this there either.
Tonight wasn’t good enough. But let’s make tomorrow a better day. ? pic.twitter.com/CxkK5zc1aP— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) March 26, 2022
“And with the budget cap, it will be difficult to change course.”