Lewis Hamilton’s form questioned as Villeneuve pinpoints why Max Verstappen deserves lead

Max Verstappen speaks ahead of Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Max Verstappen and Red Bull deserved to keep the lead of the championship after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as they’ve made fewer mistakes than Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes this season.

Verstappen is the one to beat heading to Paul Ricard in a weeks’ time, as the seven-time world champion failed to reclaim the lead of the standings in Baku after an uncharacteristic mistake at a restart with just two laps to go.

The Dutchman suffered a tyre failure which catapulted the 23-year-old into the wall and out of the lead of the race with just five laps remaining, bringing out the red flag.

Hamilton had a golden opportunity to capitalise at the restart, sitting second behind Sergio Perez, but locked up his front tyres and ended up in the escape route at turn one.

The mistake cost Mercedes dearly with Hamilton finishing P15, and Valtteri Bottas down in P12, with Perez’s win in Azerbaijan extending Red Bull’s lead to 26 points over Mercedes.

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“They deserve it,” Villeneuve told RaceFans, “because if you look at it, the only mistakes Max has made this year is running wide in Bahrain, finishing second instead of first, and running wide in Portugal and losing one point for not getting [fastest lap]. That’s it.”

“If you look at Lewis: Imola, [he was] lucky, he should not have been in the points, he should have been in the back. But he recovers, finishes second, because there’s a red flag at the right time. But he did make a huge mistake.

“Then last weekend, that was a big mistake. Even though which and whatever, it’s a huge mistake. And in Monaco, he was not on it, he was way behind his team-mate as well.”

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Villeneuve also had concerns about Hamilton’s team-mate Bottas, who has had his worst start to a season ever at Mercedes.

The Finn currently sits sixth in the driver’s standings, 58 points behind the leader Verstappen.

Villeneuve added: “Bottas is not on it at all. At Imola he was running at the back, here he was running at the back.

“Even though Perez had a tough beginning of the season, he’s generally been better off than Bottas. So it’s normal and it’s good that Red Bull is ahead in the championship.”

Mercedes look to bounce back after scoring just seven points across two races as F1 heads to Paul Ricard in a weeks time in France.

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