Jacques Villeneuve believes we are seeing a shift of guards in Mercedes, with the end of the reign of seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, and the era of George Russell is just beginning.
While Hamilton’s inevitable death — he is a man after all — is perhaps the most obvious. Yet, true, he is not alone as the Old Guard is increasingly marginalized as Young Guns assert their authority as they play for a long future in the sport at the expense of their older rivals.
With youth on their side, they are ready to take off. Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, to name a couple, are already great drivers in their early twenties, they will get better and better until they reach a peak in about half a decade … maybe.
No one would ruin his words, Villeneuve wrote in his column for the Dutch website Furmule1.nl: “We see the last change of order in Mercedes. George Russell is riding the wave, Lewis Hamilton is trying not to drown. ”
It’s a harsh claim, but it’s hard to argue against because Hamilton is simply struggling to figure it out with an evil car, combined with radically different rules that the most successful driver of the sport doesn’t come to terms with; exacerbated by his happiness when he went to AWOL when safety cars appeared, which is often the case this year. In other words, times are dark.
Records show that this is Hamilton’s worst start in F1; in particular, he has won at least one race (mostly many more) each year since making his debut in 2007. That extraordinary record will also be in the smoke if one wants to pass the first five rounds.
Code Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton was better than Russell in qualifying, the latter dropping the ball after enjoying an advantage over his teammate for most of the weekend. But in the race, Hamilton’s sixth place on the net remained sixth when the checkered flag fluttered at the end of the race.
But Russell from 11th place at the start finished ahead of his teammate in fifth and is fourth in the drivers ’standings ahead of the 6th round in Barcelona next week, with 59 points versus Hamilton’s 36.
The old F1 guard is fading, but not just in Mercedes
Of the other Old Guard vs Young Guns teams we have, McLaren combo Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. At Alpine is Fernando Alonso alongside Esteban Ocon and finally Sebastian Vettel with Lance Stroll at Aston Martin.
Norris breaks Ricciardo to the point that serious questions are being asked about the big smiling Australian who simply wasn’t a cover for his younger teammate. Honestly, it’s not a competition. The statistics do not lie: after five rounds Norris has 35 points, Ricciardo 11.
Also in Alpine where Alonso is everywhere in Miami, admittedly too aggressive, while Ocon gives results, again the points do not lie because the young Frenchman sits on 24 points with Alonso on two, admittedly two DNFs did not serve him well. But you should definitely try to drive it more like an F1 car and not like a Dakar-thingee.
Vettel. Yes, he leads Stroll with two points, the German has four and the Canadian has two! Big deal!
Aston Martin must be judged the biggest disappointment of the decade, Lawrence Stroll’s team lacks nothing that would make it a strong team, except the real leadership of their F1 team which is supposedly led by the whims of billionaire owners. By the way, this is an unsubstantiated rumor.
Whatever the case, the mind is puzzled by how bad they were and while Sebu did a huge favor by saving his career when Ferrari showed him the door, maybe Mattia Binotto did it out of sympathy with the sympathetic and esteemed four-time F1 world champion. save him from further humiliation from his younger teammate Leclerc.
That last year combined, the Monaco Kid scored 98 points compared to 33 scored by Vettel. So, the damage has been done for a long time.
Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel must be thinking about when will be the right time to give up.
As a big fan of Lewis from the moment he talked to Ron Dennis on the ride all those years ago, my heart breaks when I see this fast spiral running as well; this is not the way one of the greatest drivers ever to experience the F1 should end his career. But what option does he have then?
Alonso’s career has never been the same since he was a big cheese at Ferrari
I remember when Fernando joined the Reds, he said he would love to remain a Ferrari driver for the rest of his career and continue to win his first race for the Scuderia at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix.
And that year he almost won the championship, but after that he played the second violin of Vettel who at the same time had an unsurpassed and unsurpassed four years.
For Alonso, after Ferrari, a McLaren-Honda accident occurred after which he interrupted the first chapter of his F1 career at the end of 2018 at the end of 2018. After that he won Le Mans twice, won the WEC title, gave the Indy 500 another run and had balls for the Dakar. Respect.
But he returned to F1 believing that even at 40, plus two F1 titles won nearly two decades ago, he has unfinished business in F1, but that’s a misconception because his best years as an F1 driver are long over, and if he doesn’t think so, his work his own glorious disfavor of the legacy undermining what a fantastic driver he was when he ended the mighty era of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.
At best (desperately?) He tries to stay relevant, because even on top of any other motorsport – which he enjoyed during his stay – fame, fortune and adoration can’t even come close to being compared to F1 alone.
As a result, too many drivers have surpassed the welcome at the height of the sport, denying a huge number of steady young talent waiting to step in, finding their ladder to the top hitting a dead end made up of drivers marking F1 time too long.
Kimi Raikkonen, who left Formula 1, is an example of this, after a huge career, the last half of which was inconspicuous and unnecessary, built on his brand.
That brave talent he unleashed when he first set off all those years ago – he was probably the fastest F1 driver ever, effortlessly in Ronnie Peterson’s way – faded into the grumpy guy we’ve seen struggling to beat Antonio Giovinazzi.
The slow painful decline of Kimi’s F1 career saddened me; the same Seb
Raikkonen and Vettel were probably the best teammates and an F1 suit he could have had, and it was clear that during that period Vettel was selected and Raikkonen receiving the winger. Kimi’s second Ferrari arrival can’t be compared to the guy who won his last Scuderia title in 2007. And less with the guy from Alpha last year.
Now I don’t know why, but something tells me that Vettel’s career ‘ended’ when he fell from the lead at the 2018 German Grand Prix; a big mistake in front of their home fans. He led the championship after defeating Hamilton in Silverstone in the previous round.
At Hockenheim, he was hugely behind Hamilton in the race, with no pressure, and then scored in the heart of a crowded Sachs arena. It was brutal.
He lost the championship that year to the Mercedes driver, and at that point Seb scored 51 Grand Prix victories; since then he has saved only two more …
Vettel’s days at F1 are probably nearing an end than fellow veterans Hamilton and Alonso. I seriously wouldn’t be surprised if he liked Niki Lauda and went to a cold life in Switzerland in the middle of the season with his lovely family; if not, then at the end of the year for sure.
Along with Alpine, Alonso has great support and they will continue to listen to him as he completes his final chapter as a driver in F1. However, the longer he stays in that racing seat, the young Oscar Piastri sits on his lap and watches the Spaniard squat in the ride he fully deserves.
Ocon-Piastri simply sounds better than Alonso-Ocon. The first pairing evokes excitement and youth; the other is ho-hum, it’s done, and nothing good comes of it.
Finally, Lewis. With nothing left to prove, and only a dazzling reputation to be tarnished, there are about 80 million good reasons not to pack up and leave tomorrow, or at the end of this season.
And that is even sadder for me.