F1: George Russell replaces Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes No. 1 is ‘guard shift’, says Villeneuve

‘I think we saw the last shift of the guard’: George Russell ‘rides on the wave’ after replacing Lewis Hamilton as Mercedes’ No. 1, says Jacques Villeneuve … as he claims that the F1 world champion ‘tried not to drown’ this season

  • Lewis Hamilton endured a difficult start to the 2022 Formula One campaign
  • The Briton is almost 70 points behind current leader Charles Leclerc
  • Mercedes team-mate George Russell also has a 23-point advantage in the standings
  • Former champion Jacques Villeneuve believes there has been a ‘change of guard’
  • He says Russell ‘rides the wave’ and Hamilton ‘tries not to drown’

Lewis Hamilton, who is behind George Russell in the Formula 1 standings this season, is representing a ‘shift of guards’ in Mercedes, says former world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

It has so far been a frustrating campaign for Hamilton, who is nearly 70 points behind leader Charles Leclerc who is in sixth place after 10th and 13th place at the Saudi and Imola Grand Prix.

The seven-time world champion is struggling to adapt to Mercedes ’new highly‘ porpoising ’W13 car, which has given rise to difficulties in its first five trips of the season.

Lewis Hamilton who lags behind George Russell has been described as a ‘quarterback’

Teammate Russell is doing somewhat better though, with a consistent ranking in the top five at every Grand Prix, meaning he is 23 points ahead of Hamilton.

Villeneuve, who won the championship with Williams in 1997, believes the 24-year-old has so far ‘ridden the wave’ in 2022 – and his more experienced counterpart is ‘trying not to drown’.

In his column for Formule1.nl, said the Canadian: ‘I think we saw the last change of order in Mercedes. George Russell rides a wave, Lewis Hamilton tries not to drown.

‘After many years of winning without competition, it’s hard to wake up and realize it’s not that easy.

‘Now he has to drive like in his first two years in Formula 1, which Russell is doing now. In the race, Russell made a decision: leave me out, maybe a safety car will come – and it paid off.

Hamilton has endured a miserable campaign in 2022 so far and is currently in sixth place

Mercedes teammate Russell, meanwhile, is 23 points ahead of him in the F1 rankings

Hamilton lags behind Mercedes team-mate Russell in F1 rankings after a disappointing start to the season

Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Russell is currently 'riding the wave'

Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Russell is currently ‘riding the wave’

The luck of the ‘Lewis’ champion seems to have left him, there is no momentum and nothing is going his way.

‘It’s going to be a tough fight, but Lewis is a runner and a champion. He knows what needs to be done and we will see if there is more energy for that. But I think the absence of the world title last year is a heavy burden for him that he carried with him all winter. He was indignant and felt robbed.

‘But by the way Max drives you can see that he didn’t steal the title at all and that he’s a well-deserved champion.’

Hamilton suffered even more disappointments at the Miami Grand Prix last weekend, paying the price for his ‘50/50’ decision not to change tires during the race.

Mercedes racing engineer Peter Bonnington asked the Briton if he wanted to box during a late safety car, but he decided not to.

Hamilton suffered another blow when Russell finished ahead of him at the Miami GP

Hamilton suffered another blow when Russell finished ahead of him at the Miami GP

Russell, who took on new tires during that period, then overtook him and finished one place ahead in fifth place.

Hamilton was critical of his team after the mistake, saying: ‘In that scenario, I have no idea where everyone is, so when the team says‘ it’s your choice ’, I have no information to make a decision.

‘It’s your job. Make the decision for me because you have all the details and I don’t. I rely on the guys for that, but today they gave me a decision and I didn’t understand it.

‘When you’re given that responsibility, it’s like gambling, and I don’t like it. It was just a little unfortunate. ‘

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