Verstappen deserves points lead after Hamilton’s ‘huge mistakes’, says Villeneuve

2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen and Red Bull deserved to keep their championship leads after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as they have made fewer mistakes than their rivals, says 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Lewis Hamilton lost his chance to regain the points lead after running wide at a restart with two laps to go. The Mercedes driver was on course to finish at least second and overturn Verstappen’s four-point lead at the top of the standings.

Verstappen had been leading the race comfortably when he retired due to a sudden tyre failure. Hamilton’s error meant the Red Bull driver retained his championship lead, while Sergio Perez’s victory extended the team’s advantage at the top of the constructors’ standings.

“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.”

Hamilton has made two significant errors this year, said Villeneuve, but lost few points for one of them at Imola, where he went off the track and damaged his car.

“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.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2021
Hamilton finished second despite Imola error
“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.”

Hamilton’s team mate Valtteri Bottas also needs to raise his game, 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.”

Villeneuve was speaking to RaceFans in an exclusive interview for a future edition of My F1 Cars

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2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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112 comments on “Verstappen deserves points lead after Hamilton’s ‘huge mistakes’, says Villeneuve”

  1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    8th June 2021, 13:41

    Sorry JV, he’s made a lot more mistakes than that, he has just been lucky and Lewis did not make him pay for them.

    Didn’t Lewis lose this race to begin with due to a pit stop which wasn’t his fault?

    1. @freelittlebirds No he didn’t actually, Perez had an equally long stop and still came out ahead of him.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        8th June 2021, 13:55

        @tflb yeah but Lewis had no control over Perez’s strategy. You’re right that he would have been ahead of him.

    2. Chris Zarate
      8th June 2021, 13:55

      Please don’t talk about luck because we all know who has loads and loads of luck throughout his career.

      And do you honestly think Lewis will win this without the slow pitstop? If you do then you might be one of the few who still believe that, why? Forget about Max for a minute and just compare Lewis and Checo, they both lost about 2+ seconds because of slow pit stop but Checo still came out in front and Lewis could not pass him the WHOLE race.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        8th June 2021, 14:58

        Checo still came out in front and Lewis could not pass him the WHOLE race.

        Well, the Red Bull was gaining 0.1 to 0.15 seconds per corner so, yeah, it was kind of impossible to stay for the Mercedes to hang with the Red Bull. We don’t know if the Merc could have stayed ahead of the Red Bulls for the whole race but Lewis seemed to do fairly well at the beginning of the race.

        1. @freelittlebirds
          Baku has 20 corners so by your calculation of 0.1-0.15 seconds per corner the Red Bull was 2-3 seconds faster per lap?
          Love it when people pull timings out of their behinds, like Hamilton claiming the flexiwings were worth 6 tenths.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            9th June 2021, 3:15

            @neutralino just watch a lap and you can decide the differential and what qualifies as a corner. If the Red Bull wasn’t pulling away in sectors 1& 2, the Merc would have eaten the Red Bull alive on the straights with a tow, faster speed, and DRS.

          2. @freelittlebirds
            But that’s the set-up compromises, Hamilton went with less wing and the Red Bulls couldn’t pass him on track, so had to do it in the pits. has a decent article about the set-ups of the Red Bull versus Mercedes, it’s a good read.
            Ultimately Mercedes couldn’t get a good set-up to work and you can’t talk about Red Bull gaining in the corners due to their set-up choices without similarly talking about where Mercedes gained due to their own set up choices. But again, it’s people pulling timings out of thin air that’s the funny part.

      2. It’s not luck if you’re always lucky 🙂

      3. @Chris Zarate Who’s lucky ? Hamilton ain’t lucky, that’s skills Max lacks.

    3. No, what are you talking about? Hamilton was never anywhere near taking the lead. The only unlucky person here was Max with that tyre blowout.

      1. @ajpennypacker Max was not unlucky at all, don’t start this nonsense, Max was driving like a mad man, even his engineer came on the radio to tell Max to slow it down because of his rear tyres where on to high temp. Max’s tyre blew because he couldn’t manage his tyres.

        1. Lol, when did they let you out?

        2. lol seriously? You’re in all seriousness suggesting that a puncture while drive over seemingly clean asphalt was anything but bad luck? His tyres didn’t fail, or degrade to an extreme. It was a blowout due to a puncture. That can happen to old tyres and brand new tyres. Like Russell in Bahrain last year. In every instance, it’s bad luck

          1. Do.Not.Feed.Them

          2. “Let me show you my equipment. I have the Enemy Tracker, it tracks enemies at all times. When it flashes red, it means that there is an enemy within near range. Yellow flashes means that there is an unpopular person who doesn’t think Ferrari and Haas are noobs. When it flashes green, it means that the person thinks Ferrari and Haas are noobs.”

  2. Hamilton was extremely lucky in Imola to walk away with 18 points, when normally it would have been 0 points. On the other hand, in Baku you could argue that he was extremely unlucky. The mistake only cost him about 5 seconds but because it was a restart it meant that he finished outside the points. In total these two mistakes cost him 18 or even 25 points. To me that evens out a bit.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      8th June 2021, 14:14

      I don’t think he was that unlucky in Baku given he said on the radio that he needs to think about the championship and implied that fighting for position wasn’t important. Given he then attempted to get by Perez and managed to hit a button that has always been there previously on an occasion where he himself implied he needs to be careful is very poor if I’m honest.

      All this said, I think he will have finished in the tail end of the points in Imola and 3rd in Baku if not for Verstappen’s retirement and Russell taking Bottas out. This likely will have resulted in him being around 25 points behind Verstappen.

      1. @thegianthogweed regardless of what he said on the radio beforehand, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. He got the better start and in the blink of an eye was alongside Perez. He pretty much had no choice but to try and take the lead… I don’t know a single driver who would’ve backed out of that one, given his relative track position.

        Unfortunately for him, he hit a switch when pulling an upshift, which as you say was always there, so ultimately still his fault.

        I do wonder if he forgot to bail out of a sub-menu on the grid making it easy to accidentally re-enable the “magic” mode, seeing as it’s never happened before. If so, then I suspect he would’ve accidentally hit the switch regardless of how good his start was, so if he’d got a worse start would likely have taken Perez out of the race!

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          8th June 2021, 14:48

          Fair enough, but I still think he went overboard with trying to prioritise an excellend start when he implied he was just trying to focus on the championship. He looked like he overheated his breaks too (which i know was not related) But I don’t think he needed to try as hard as he did based on his own comments.

        2. Bosco Moroz
          8th June 2021, 17:43

          I still don’t understand how he hit a switch, when clearly the magic button is on a rotary dial on all the pics of his wheel released by Mercedes. Hard to believe he did not forget to turn it off IMHO. Toto saying Lewis does not make mistakes is laughable. I agree with Jacques for the 2nd time this year, or twice ever. Lewis’s mistake in Imola was huge; he got very lucky. Valteri is finally proving his weakness, but Lewis did not want a challenger along side him after Nico beat him, and now that is coming back on him as well. Funny how when Merc is out front, Toto and Lewis always want competition, then when they have it, they look to stewards and make excuses. Just get on with it, we finally have a championship battle and I for one am quite happy; F1 has been a lousy series for way too long with it’s many tiers and no challengers.

          1. The magic button is actually on top of the steering wheel I believe. He did turn it off correctly but then if I’m correct he rested his hand against it and turned it back on.
            But yeah agree it’s good to have Mercedes under pressure again.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      8th June 2021, 15:07

      @matthijs He would been further behind Verstappen in the points but got lucky – even with his mistake, he still ended up better off than he would have if Verstappen had finished. So no… can’t really say it was an unlucky weekend for him. One one of the few occasions over the last 7 seasons where he hasn’t been in the fastest car, his rival for the Championship retires. Pretty lucky I’d say.

  3. Not often that I agree with JV, but he’s completely right here. Hamilton has made 2 massive (and uncharacteristic) errors already. But he’s only paid the proper price for one. Verstappen and RB deserve the lead in both championships.

    1. Chris Horton
      8th June 2021, 14:15

      I honestly don’t feel Hamilton’s mistakes are uncharacteristic, he’s always done this stuff when his car doesn’t give him a huge comfort buffer.

      It’s easy to look imperious when you’re only running at 90%. (The figure isn’t intended to be wholly accurate, just an illustration. Before we all go off piste.)

    2. @tflb Max has made far more errors, in Bahrain race, Imola qualifying and almost spunnin the race, mistakes in Portugal during qualifying and once again in the race, mistakes in Spain and again in Baku Free Practice and in the race asking too much from his tyres. Get your biased blinkers off and open your eyee, Max has made the most mistakes and only leads because the Red Bull is the better car, nothing else.

      1. You are funny.
        But always nice to have someone like you.
        Keep up the good work!

      2. @noname
        All those small errors by Max don’t nearly compare to the magnitude, the size and the sheer scale of Hamilton’s mistakes.
        You sure are funny for a laugh, but no-one can take your opinions seriously.

        1. Expect him to say Ferrari isn’t a noob team nowadays.

    3. @tflb Hamilton was “unlucky” that he triggered the brake magic button by accident in Baku.

  4. Are we watching tje same races? Verstappen should have won almost all races this year so far but hamilton/ merc capitalized on their misgivings. Yes lewis has made mistakes but to say or diminish verstappens mistakes is not fair. A mistake whether colossal or small is the same. Its still a mistake and at that level neither can or should be making mistakes because they stand to lose soo much per race. Some of lewis mistakes are also part due to others. Thus far jv is rigbt redbull / vers should be in the lead. But more because they had the better car in most of the the first few races. Unless we painting with different brushes…

    1. 50/50. I think Hamilton is looking ‘edgy’ up to now, some excellent qualifying sessions and races, even at Baku, but also two big errors that could have cost him a massive deficit to Verstappen (+18 Imola, +25/26 Baku) and a truly dreadful performance at Monaco. That’s simply not championship-winning level driving and not really deserving of a championship compared to Verstappen so far. Going off track twice is poor, poor, poor.

      1. BTW, Lewis damaged his car in q3 in Monaco. Another mistake low key because his times already were terrible.

    2. A mistake whether colossal or small is the same


      1. @balue
        Big mistakes matter more, of course.

    3. @Wayne Well said. Max has made mistakes in Bahrain race, Imola qualifying and almost spun in the race, mistakes in Portugal qualifying and again in the race, mistake in Spain, mistake in Baku Free Practice and in the race asking too much from his tyres that even his engineer came on the radio asking to take it easy but everybody turns a blind eye to that

      1. @noname
        You know you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel when you’re bringing up practice mistakes.
        Your opinions are a barrel of laughs too that they are so crazy.

    4. My overall take out so far is that RB has improved its car slightly and is approaching the Mercedes package. The circuits we have seen so far slightly suit RB more so I do not think they can challenge Mercedes all year long however. In fact RB failed top capitalise to the extent they should have, leading to no good prospects for the rest of the year.

      Meanwhile Lewis and Toto show some serious cracks under pressure, especially keeping in mind that ‘their circuits’ are still to come. Max really got under Lewis skin and as a result he makes uncharacteristic mistakes. Then again, when have we seen Lewis really having to fight an opponent since Alonso? All the others where internal candidates of which only Rosberg could beat him once and since then Toto has defused that with Bottas.

      So RB still not delivering enough and Mercedes & Lewis needlessly cracking under pressure.

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    8th June 2021, 14:19

    For several years now Mercedes have not just had a superior car by quite a margin but they’ve benefitted from very good luck, but this year their car advantage while still there is considerably smaller and that’s placed some new limitations upon them. Tactics and actions they would have done or relied upon are no longer working, or at least not as guaranteed to work and that’s opening them up to mistakes. They’ve still been exceptionally lucky; Villeneuve is right they were incredibly fortunate at Imola and until the magic button they were on course to have incredible good fortune in Baku, but I think they’re having to adjust their expectations at the moment as what they usually do isn’t guaranteed to work.

    Of course it’s a matter of time until they iron out those issues and this car becomes a dominantly bulletproof monstrosity like its predecessors and any vague idea that Red Bull had a hope for the title is erased, but at least for now there’s a fight. It’s telling that Red Bull have to be 100% or 110% of maximum to win, and only barely are able to best a wounded Mercedes.

    1. their car advantage while still there

      Are you for real? Granted, they have a car advantage over some of the field but surely you can’t claim include Red Bull there. What will it take for you to actually acknowledge that as of now – i.e the last race – Red Bull have a faster car?

      1. Tend to agree. The other races were close enough for the drivers to make a difference (e.g. with VER and HAM being ahead of BOT and PER). However at Baku both Red Bulls were faster. Possibly (probably) a combination of circuit and softer tyres, but no matter, they did clearly have the faster car. As they had at Monaco too. And are likely to have the same elsewhere.

        1. @david-br Just responded to your response to me on the ‘Mercedes can’t afford mistakes’ type article and will say similarly here that I lean a bit more towards the opinion of @rocketpanda that I am leery of the other shoe dropping and that Mercedes will find their way yet. For sure RBR are looking very promising, but I’m not convinced yet that Mercedes won’t figure some things out, and/or that it will depend on the track. There may yet be too many races where Max is simply not equipped if Mercedes finds some answers to their woes. It’s just been too few races yet, and I still think of Mercedes’ mistakes as anomalies to be saying things such as you suggested in the other article that this is already Max’s WDC to lose. I don’t think we are anywhere near sitting with enough info and results to be saying that. As I said, Mercedes have been a dominant dynasty, and now we have had a handful of races when it has been see-saw between LH and Max, so that doesn’t to me already equate at this point in time to Max/RBR = dynasty beater, nor ‘new benchmark.’ As a Max fan, here’s hoping, but I dare not hope too much for now, and I think we need to see more.

          1. No I think you’ve just picked up the wrong idea @robbie , I’m not implying Red Bull are ahead. I’m just saying they’ve been ahead over one lap or in races at a number of the tracks so far. I’d put it even (actually slightly RBR’s way, but that’s probably more arguable). Who knows who will develop the most strongly. Red Bull have typically been stronger towards the end of a season, Mercedes tend to solve their problems. But I don’t see their rake/rear downforce/soft tyre heating issues, there from the season start, as so easily solvable given this year’s regulations severely restricted their possibilities.

          2. @david-br No that’s fair, I just took you saying it’s Max’s to lose as to mean they’re ahead and will stay there unless for example Max/RBR starts making mistakes and ‘losing it’ lol.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        8th June 2021, 15:11

        For the last 2 races, Red Bull have had a better car. No doubt. The question is whether this is because of a development or whether it’s just track specific. We could see at Baku that the Red Bull had much more traction coming out of the slower corners which is going to benefit them at tracks like Monaco and Baku but we’ll see how things play out in France. I have a feeling Mercedes will be back on top again.

        1. Track specifics, slow corners etc. Monaco traditionally RB and Baku RB just had to improve their straight line speed. A lot of drivers have already referred to the mickey mouse tracks being over for now and we resume to normal circuits. Thats why I do not understand Lewis and Toto worry, unless it is ofcourse part of their underdog narrative again

      3. Do you think Ferrari is a noob team?

      4. They dont. Monaco and Baku are hardly representative. Merc still the best package but showing some cracks under pressure. Merc should not be so stressful as eventually the tracks coming will suit them so much better. Its just that they are not used of having this pressure. And Hamiltons mental part has always been a challenge to him, which hou can see in him reverting to mental games when the going gets tough. Ask Rosberg

    2. @rocketpanda

      “a dominantly bulletproof monstrosity like its predecessors”

      It’s hard to take you seriously with these kinds of comments. 2017 and 2018 Mercedes were not dominant and Ferrari in different circumstances would have taken that fight to the final race and who knows what would have happened. It’s clear that Red Bull are at least now on par with Mercedes, plus the fact we have 2 races now at Austria coming up where RB have been fine in the past at the circuit they actually own. Don’t let any of this affect your narrative though, I think we all know where that lies.

      1. @john-h For me it is exactly 2017 and 2018 that I think of when I worry as a Max fan that Mercedes might find some answers and take over the second half of this season just as they did in ’17 and ’18. In those seasons LH was also winning in the first halves too, not just SV, so in those seasons they knew all along that they had a winning car, but just a bit of a diva, until they learned more. “On par with Mercedes…” has so far depended on what track and what session, as it was for SV in those two years, so of course I am hoping LH/Merc doesn’t find their way as they have in the past, but the problem is…they have in the past.

        1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
          8th June 2021, 18:02

          John-H doesn’t like me, lol.

          “2017 and 2018 Mercedes were not dominant” – Ok let’s just take a look at the numbers. Numbers don’t lie, right?

          In 2017 there were 20 races. Mercedes took 15 Pole positions and 12 wins. Ferrari meanwhile took 5 pole positions and 5 wins. Mercedes were on pole, or won, over half the races in that season. Mercedes have 10 pole positions and 7 race wins more than Ferrari managed over the season.

          In 2018 there were 21 races. Mercedes took 13 pole positions and 11 wins. Ferrari meanwhile took 6 pole positions and 6 wins. Mercedes were – again – on pole, or won, over half the races in that season. Mercedes have 7 pole positions and 5 race wins more than Ferrari managed over the season.

          I’ll grant you not the utter and complete domination of the previous three years but I’m confused how you couldn’t say that’s a fairly dominant victory? If it was within two or three perhaps, but it wasn’t. Talking like ‘in different circumstances they could have taken it to the final race’ is meaningless because they didn’t, those stats are what happened. I’m not even sure why you take issue with me calling an obvious domination as domination, Mercedes had a fantastic car. Good for them, own it, but don’t pretend they had to fight particularly hard for it.

          1. Your numbers don’t take into account the drivers at all @rocketpanda, Singapore 2017 was a classic example of this. It’s not that I don’t like you, it’s because the hyperbole and vitriol on this site recently is starting to , well, get on my nerves tbh having been here since 2008. Never have I read so many ridiculous statements in the comments until this season. I believe Max to be the greatest driver out there at the moment and Hamilton fading, however the comments about Mercedes being dominant for so long is not true, they had a real challenge in 2017.

            Anyway I’ll stick to my language, you stick to the hyperbole.

          2. Oh I forgot to add, lol.

          3. When will everyone get it. There is no luck involved. LH and Mercedes clearly won with an inferior car in 17, 18 and 19 (Ferrari was clearly faster in all those seasons), RB are faster this season.

          4. @jaymenon10
            It’s already been demonstrated to you on another article why the Ferrari wasn’t fastest in 2017 and 2019 at least (open to debate on 2018). Why do you continue with these untruths? Is your mind made up despite all the evidence staring you in the face? Have you been taking every word of Toto Wolff as gospel the past 5 years?

    3. Couldnt agree more with this summary of the season so far. Nice to see the Mercedes team under competitive circumstances so we get to see what they are really made off

      1. RE Neutralino