Jacques Villeneuve sticks knife into Lewis Hamilton in F1 title battle – ‘I see fatigue’

F1: Hamilton v Verstappen in numbers

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Former F1 racer Jacques Villeneuve reckons he has spotted fatigue in Lewis Hamilton which offers Max Verstappen a chance to win the drivers’ title over his rival. The pair are locked in a tense championship battle, with only six points separating them at the top of the standings.

Hamilton was on top heading into the Turkish Grand Prix, but the combination of a grid penalty through a new engine and a botched tyre strategy meant he could only manage to finish fifth.

Verstappen came home second in Istanbul, once again wrestling the lead away from his rival – though the margin at the top remains slender.

Half-a-dozen races remain in this enthralling 2021 season, with the outcome remaining anyone’s guess at this point.

But Canadian racer Villeneuve believes the Red Bull man has the edge as, in his opinion, there is disunity and fatigue among the Mercedes ranks.

He also thinks things are so tight at the top because the seven-time world champion has benefitted from a lot of luck going his way.

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“The points in the standings do not reflect the real situation. Lewis Hamilton made a lot of mistakes and paid a low price, unlike Max Verstappen,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I think about what happened to him in Hungary and before that at Silverstone.

“Plus, there some easy, easy Grand Prix for the Mercedes where Lewis was a bit off.

“Of course, so far Verstappen and Red Bull’s season has been simply perfect, while I see fatigue in Lewis and his team.”

Villeneuve, himself a veteran of 163 races in F1 and a world championship winner in 1997, continued: “Strategies? In the past, Mercedes didn’t need to get them right because they won anyway.

“Like Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari – everyone said they were geniuses, even when the strategy was wrong, but they were so much stronger that they won anyway.

“Moreover, driver and team do not seem to be as united as before.”

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Despite Verstappen’s lead in the drivers’ standings, Red Bull are in danger of being cut adrift in the constructors’ championship having fallen 36 points behind with six races to go.

Adviser Helmut Marko knows full well that their task is a difficult one, and according to the Austrian it is made even harder because four of those six remaining races favour the Mercedes W12 over their RB16B.

“At the moment I only see two races where we have advantages because of the altitude – Mexico and Sao Paulo,” he said. “At the other four circuits, Mercedes is the favourite at the moment.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agrees that his drivers will have an advantage next time out at the Circuit of the Americas.

“Austin [for the United States Grand Prix] is a track we like and is another opportunity,” the Austrian admitted. “But I’m under no illusion this is very much going to go to the end in the drivers’ championship.”

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