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F1: Jacques Villenueve claims George Russell’s career will be made if he beats Lewis Hamilton

‘If he beats Lewis, his career is made’: former world champion Jacques Villenueve claims George Russell’s F1 reputation will get a huge boost if he beats Hamilton at Mercedes

  • George Russell leads Lewis Hamilton in the standings after nine races in 2022
  • Hamilton has already been knocked out seven times by his new Mercedes teammate
  • Jacques Villeneuve says Russell will have an important year if he beats Hamilton

Jacques Villeneuve claims George Russell will have one of his best seasons if he can beat Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes.

Russell joined the team at the start of the year to replace Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton’s team-mate, with the Finn being no match for the seven-time world champion during their five years together.

Despite being snatched into third place by Hamilton at the Canadian Grand Prix, Russell has beaten his more established teammate seven times in nine races to date, giving him an overall advantage of 34 points in the drivers’ standings.

George Russell (right) has been ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton (left) this year

George Russell (right) has been ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton (left) this year

Russell may be a little disappointed that it has come amid a season where Mercedes is off the pace of a championship battle for the first time in nine years due to poor car performance due to the bouncing effect known as porpoises.

But Villeneuve believes that as long as the 24-year-old Hamilton stays ahead of the rest of the season it will give him a huge reputation boost in terms of his F1 career.

“He now has the experience and he has driven bad cars, difficult cars for a few years,” Villeneuve told the F1 nation podcasting.

Russell has beaten Hamilton in seven of nine races this season, including in Monaco (above)

Russell has beaten Hamilton in seven of nine races this season, including in Monaco (above)

“So yeah, he was okay with a tough Mercedes bouncing, all that mattered to him was beating Lewis.

“He knew from the start that it wasn’t a car that won the championship, if he beats Lewis his career is made. That’s all he cares about.

“And also, because they’re both British, he beats Lewis, that’s the way his career was made.

“So that was his only emphasis: what he had to do to beat Lewis and that’s what he did.”

Jacques Villeneuve hands Max Verstappen his pole position trophy after the Red Bull driver's fastest lap during qualifying for last weekend's Canadian Grand Prix

Jacques Villeneuve hands Max Verstappen his pole position trophy after the Red Bull driver’s fastest lap during qualifying for last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix

If Russell beats Hamilton, he could claim to beat a seven-time world champion, with the veteran Mercedes star level with the great Michael Schumacher for the all-time record.

Despite their impressive numbers, however, Villeneuve doubted the validity of their titles compared to previous F1 greats, including Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, who have won four and three world championships respectively.

The 1997 champion believes the fight between the former McLaren team-mates led to them taking world titles from each other before comparing their situation to Hamilton at Mercedes.

Villeneuve claims seven-time world champions Michael Schumacher (above) and Hamilton have been lucky enough to have the fastest car with little competition throughout their careers

Villeneuve claims seven-time world champions Michael Schumacher (above) and Hamilton have been lucky enough to have the fastest car with little competition throughout their careers

Between 2014 and 2020 he won every title in a dominant Mercedes, except in 2016 when he was surprisingly picked by Nico Rosberg before retiring after his success.

“It’s crazy,” Villenueve added. ‘Both drivers’ [Hamilton and Schumacher] drove the best car for years without any competition.

“Now take Prost and Senna without their teammates, and they’d both have seven championships, and they’d be on the same scale as Lewis and Schumacher.

“So you also have to be in a car that is unbeatable without a teammate. Lewis had Rosberg for a year and then Rosberg just gave up.”

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