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Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 Formula One world champion, has tipped Max Verstappen to end Lewis Hamilton’s era of dominance this season. Villeneuve has described Verstappen as ‘superior’, stating Hamilton and Mercedes are more mistake-prone than Red Bull Racing.
Last weekend, Hamilton’s victory in treacherous conditions in the Russian Grand Prix moved him ahead of Verstappen in the World Drivers’ Championship standings.
The Brit now leads by two points ahead of next Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix, whilst Mercedes sit 33 points ahead of Red Bull in the Constructors’ Championship.
However, Villeneuve has criticised Mercedes and Hamilton for showing weakness throughout the 2021 season.
He believes Verstappen is ‘superior’ to the seven-time world c]ampion this year, crediting his desire to go on the attack.
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Villeneuve also suggested Hamilton had to ‘wake up’ this year due to Verstappen’s title challenge.
He told Corriere Della Sera: “Verstappen is superior; he didn’t make any real mistakes. He always went on the attack.
“Instead, Lewis showed weaknesses. And Mercedes, too, more than Red Bull.
“After [Nico] Rosberg, he [Hamilton] had an easy life. Maybe he had fallen asleep a bit; this year, he woke up suddenly. But it remains a phenomenon.”
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Title rivals Hamilton and Verstappen had their latest on-course clash in the Italian Grand Prix.
The Dutchman attempted to pass Hamilton, but the two locked wheels and suffered a heavy collision, sliding into the gravel and out of the race.
Verstappen was later hit with a three-place grid penalty imposed in the Russian GP, but Villeneuve disagreed with the sanction.
“Max was aggressive: he could have cut the chicane but then he would have had to give up the position,” Villeneuve explained.
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“Lewis could have left 10cm more, but he wanted to stay in front. It seemed like a process of intentions.
“You cannot punish someone thinking that he did it on purpose when the contact starts meters before the maneuver becomes intentional.”
“Verstappen is always very aggressive; with Hamilton, he is even more aggressive. If you put them together in the same corner, they exaggerate, but these moments are part of F1.
“If every time a penalty is triggered, there will be no more competition because no one will try to overtake.”
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