Lewis Hamilton wanted Las Vegas GP ‘stopped’ in angry radio message to Mercedes engineers
Former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve believes he knows why Lewis Hamilton has been struggling in qualifying. The Mercedes star has not won a race since the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, the race before he missed out on being an eight-time world champion in controversial fashion in Abu Dhabi.
The 38-year-old only finished sixth in the driver’s standings in 2022, the lowest of his career. He is currently third in the 2023 driver standings and he has been more competitive in the current campaign than the last. But the British driver’s results have been far fro the levels he became accustomed to as the Silver Arrows continue to try and find ways to compete with front-runners Red Bull.
Furthermore, while he has been able make up for it more often than not on race day, Hamilton has been struggling during qualifying sessions, which is uncharacteristic for the seven-time champion. But Villeneuve, who is in Las Vegas for the city’s inaugural F1 race on Sunday, has explained why that may be the case – suggesting teammate George Russell is “better” when it comes to setting the car up.
“It seems to be a peaky car, with a very small window of operation and it’s very hard to set up, George seems to be better than that,” the Canadian said during a chat in the Las Vegas GP pit lane. “You have to remember, Lewis spent so many years with an easy car to drive with extra horsepower from the rest of the grid. Even if they didn’t have the right strategy, the right setup, they would still win. When you have to go back to get that last tenth, you’re not used to it anymore and you need to get the ball rolling.”
Hamilton was knocked out of the Las Vegas GP qualifying session in the second session and could only manage P11. He has since been promoted to P10 following a 10-place grid penalty after changing his engine battery.