Former F1 driver Jacques Villeneuve believes the pressure exerted on Lewis Hamilton by arch-rival Max Verstappen will led to “more errors” on the part of the reigning world champion.
The intensity of the battle this season between Mercedes and Red Bull had pitted their leading drivers against each other and forced Hamilton and Verstappen to take their skills to the next level.
So far, the rivalry has favoured F1’s seven-time world champion who has inflicted three defeats upon Verstappen in the first four races, with Hamilton losing out at Imola in the wake of a rare mistake by the Briton.
But Villeneuve believes more errors will follow for the Mercedes driver as his opponent piles on the pressure.
“Max has learned over the past few years to always push and go to the extreme limit to at least get a win or a podium now and then,” explained the 1997 F1 world champion.
“Lewis didn’t have to do that in every race because his main rival was his team-mate and he wasn’t on his game in some of the showdowns.
“So Lewis didn’t always have to go to the limit in the past, but this year it’s different.
“You can see that in the mistake he made at Imola, for example. He wanted to get through the field too quickly and was very lucky with the red flag. We will see more errors of this kind.”
Although Verstappen is used to going out on a limb and pushing hard on his own, Villeneuve believes the Dutchman would benefit from the strong support of his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez.
“It’s less of a problem for Verstappen because, as I said, he’s got used to pushing as hard as possible,” added the Canadian.
“What he needs now is better pace from his team-mate, Sergio Pérez, so he can support him in the fight against the Mercedes drivers at the top.”
On the eve of the fifth round of the 2021 season in Monaco, Hamilton leads Verstappen by 14 points in the Drivers’ standings while Mercedes enjoys a 29-point lead over Red Bull in the Constructors’ championship.
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