'We have seen the final changing of the guard at Mercedes', says former F1 champ Villeneuve

George Russell (left) and Lewis Hamilton
George Russell (left) and Lewis Hamilton
Mark Thompson

Former Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Lewis Hamilton is officially out of contention at Mercedes.

Mercedes newcomer George Russell has consistently outperformed his seven-time world champion teammate in the last four rounds of the 2022 season, adding ammunition to the argument that Russell is currently the number one driver at Brackley.

In terms of points, Russell is 23 points ahead in the drivers' championship and seemingly gaining momentum with every race. Villeneuve believes he's unofficially usurped Hamilton as the horse to back at Mercedes.

"I think we have seen the final changing of the guard at Mercedes," wrote the Canadian in his column for formule1.nl.

"George Russell is riding the wave; Lewis Hamilton is trying not to drown. After many years of winning without competition, it's hard to wake up and realise it's not that easy. He now has to drive as he did in his first two years in Formula 1, which is what Russell is doing now. In the race, Russell decided: leave me out; maybe a safety car will come – and it paid off."

Hamilton was just minutes away from a record eighth drivers' title on that fateful evening in Abu Dhabi last year, but luck has seemingly left him ever since Max Verstappen pipped him at the post.

"Lewis' champion's luck seems to have left him, he doesn't have the momentum, and nothing's going his way," continued Villeneuve.

"It will be a tough fight, but Lewis is a racer and a champion. He knows what needs to be done, and we'll see if he still has the energy to do it. But I think missing the world title last year is a heavy burden for him that he carried with him all winter. He was bitter and felt that he was robbed. But you can see from how Max drives that he didn't steal the title and is a deserved champion."

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