Former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve isn’t certain whether Lewis Hamilton will carry on with his Formula 1 career beyond the current campaign following another poor showing at the 2022 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton, who drives for Mercedes, ended the race with a disappointing 13th-place finish at Imola, and is 58 points behind Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, who is currently at the top of the 2022 Driver Standings. As such, Villeneuve has doubted the hunger and willingness of Hamilton to continue racing.
“Will Hamilton still be there in two, three years? Will he even reach the end of this season?” wrote Villeneuve in his column for Dutch website Formule1.nl.
“You can’t see into someone’s head. You can be down and depressed or you can be unable to deal with no longer winning. Then maybe it’s time to decide life is better without racing. We’ve been surprised in the past, it’s happened that champions have sometimes just had enough.”
Could Hamilton hamper Russell?
Villeneuve also believes that having a legend like Hamilton in the Mercedes team results in preferential treatment, which in turn hampers the progress and development of a young driver like George Russell.
“At Mercedes, they now in any event need to learn how to lose,” stated Villeneuve.
“For years, they drove everyone into the ground. If someone got closer, they just opened the throttle.
“This year, they don’t have that advantage anymore. George Russell is doing a good job in the role of underdog. He learned this at Williams, while Hamilton has always had something to fight for.
“A few columns ago, I was already wondering how they will handle this within the team. At Imola, we already saw Toto Wolff has difficulty controlling himself.
“His radio message after the race spoke volumes. That wasn’t only aimed at Hamilton but the whole world. A bad result for Russell doesn’t generate criticism but for Hamilton it does.
“This is the risk of having such a megastar in your team. Hamilton wasn’t in the right rhythm from the off this weekend. He also didn’t look aggressive enough, as if he couldn’t fight.”
“That he ended up getting lapped can happen. That’s the sum total of all the factors, plus the bad car.”
“He won’t keep having such terrible weekends and he will beat Russell. But it won’t be easy being the head of the Mercedes team right now.”