Jacques Villeneuve appears to point finger at Lewis Hamilton over Mercedes problems

Mercedes: What’s gone wrong at the F1 and can they recover?

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Jacques Villeneuve has blamed Lewis Hamilton’s attitude for being partly to blame for Mercedes’ poor start to the season, claiming the seven-time champion has not been “driving to his potential”. The 1997 champion claimed Hamilton is “dragging his arms on the ground” and is not performing at his best every week.

The former Williams star said Hamilton needs a good grid start to “be at his 100 per cent form” and hit back at the Mercedes driver for wanting to give up at the Spanish Grand Prix. Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Villeneuve said: “Lewis still, you could see, was dragging his arms on the ground a little bit. Lewis needs to have this start to go and get to be at his 100 per cent form.

“This year you have the impression he has not been driving to the maximum of his potential. [In Barcelona], he said, ‘Well, let’s stop, let’s save the engine’.

“He didn’t want [to continue], and then ultimately got going and was competitive. So that’s I think the difference with Max from last year. Max is 100 per cent the whole time, Lewis isn’t. But today, he was in front of his teammate. He could see the podium. Yes, he had extreme pace. Why didn’t he have this pace earlier in the season? Because obviously, the pace can be there.”

Hamilton’s podium in Canada is only the second time he has beaten team-mate Russell all season. The Mercedes rookie’s consistency has been one of the talking points of the season as he has finished inside the top-five at every race this year.

It has left him a massive 34 points ahead of Hamilton after eight races in his debut season at the team. The points also give the former Williams star a slim chance of battling for the title if Mercedes can fix their troubled 2022 car.

He lies just over 50 points behind championship leader Max Verstappen while Hamilton is almost 100 behind. However, Villeneuve believes Hamilton may not have tasted champagne if Russell hadn’t made a vital qualifying error.

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Russell opted for dry tyres on his last run in qualifying despite the track still looking damp in the changeable conditions meaning he missed out on a final run at beating Hamiton’s time. Villeneuve added: “That was really not a good call to make and it cost him qualifying in front of his team-mate and it cost him the podium. He had the pace, he definitely had the pace.”

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