Villeneuve: Lewis has rarely had to push to the limit

Lewis Hamilton Imola spin sand gravel villeneuve verstappen

Jacques Villeneuve, a veteran of mighty championship battles in Indycar and Formula 1, predicts the clash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen for the 2021 world title will be decided by mistakes as the drivers push the limits.

Hamilton and Verstappen have emerged as the two main contenders for this year’s championship crown, with Mercedes and Red Bull throwing all they have at the effort. While Hamilton leads 3-1 in terms of victories, it’s closer than the score suggests.

The Monaco Grand Prix is next, the mean streets of Monte-Carlo urger of mistakes, providing a very different stage to the past four races. The race’s COVID-19 induced absence from the championship last year was sorely felt, now the anticipation is pumping as F1 returns home to the trickiest of venues.

Speaking during a virtual Paddock Club appearance, Villeneuve summed up the status of the title race after four rounds: “Over the past few years, Max has learned to always push and go to the extreme limit in order to, at least occasionally, get a win or a podium place.

“Lewis hasn’t had to do that every race because his main rival is his teammate who was not up to pace in some of the showdowns.

“Lewis has rarely had to push to the limit in the past but this year it’s different. You can see that in the mistakes he made in Imola, for example. He wanted to get through the field too quickly and was very lucky with the red flag. There will be more of this type of mistakes.

“It’s less of a problem for Verstappen because, as I said, he’s got used to pushing as hard as possible. What he needs now is a better pace from his teammate Sergio Pérez so that he can support him in the fight against the Mercedes drivers at the front,” added Canada’s 1997 F1 World Champion.