Jacques Villeneuve believes there could be another reason for Lewis Hamilton’s continued silence after Abu Dhabi, and that is what kind of car Mercedes will make for the upcoming season. The seven-time world champion has cut off all communications and press statements since the last race last year, where he suffered a shocking defeat for the title in the last lap from Max Verstappen.
Linked to this story is FIA racing director Michael Masi, who pulled a safety car off the track and left one - last - lap to finish the race under normal circumstances. However, the Australian is accused of allowing several cars to deploy themselves before letting go of the race.
Verstappen took advantage on fresh tires and beat Hamilton. The Briton was in disbelief after that, and the last statement he made dates back to December 12 last year, when he made a brief statement after the race. The driver of the Mercedes thus lost the opportunity to win a record 8th title.
Because of these developments, Villeneuve believes Hamilton is assessing the possibilities of whether he could win the elusive record eighth title and will make a decision based on that whether to continue racing or not.
"It depends on the car that Mercedes will give Hamilton, whether it will be easy to win with him or not," Villeneuve said of the Briton's continuation with Formula 1 racing. "Also, Lewis is a little tired, he's had (some) easy seasons since Nice Rosberg left and he really doesn't want to have another year like he experienced last season," he added.
"He thought he could easily win a record eighth title, but that didn't happen. It’s like a diamond you have in your hands and then they suddenly snatch it from your hands. In this way, it hurt a lot more than if Verstappen had simply led the whole race.
Distance between Hamilton and Wolff
On the other hand, the Canadian also believes that Hamilton may be trying to set a clear distance between himself and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. Given that Wolff’s reactions to events during races, such as banging on a table or throwing headphones, or pointing a finger at television, became internet gifs in 2021, Villeneuve suggested that this propensity for dramatic action or radio messages may not be to Hamilton’s liking.
"I also interpret Hamilton's silence as if he wants to distance himself from Wolff," he said. "After all, you can lose with style, and Toto acted like someone who plays Monopoly. The moment he loses, (he) throws the whole surface into the air.
" With Wolff’s radio message: “no Michael no, that wasn’t right, which has become another embarrassing subject of controversy after Abu Dhabi, Villeneuve thinks Hamilton doesn’t want to have a connection.
"In doing so, Wolff suffered great damage to his image, in my opinion. "Hamilton is sensitive because he is thinking about his future in America, maybe even in Hollywood," Villeneuve concluded.