Ex-world champion slams Lewis Hamilton as ‘bitter’ in huge outburst

The 1997 World Champion had plenty of praise for Mercedes newbie George Russell.

Lewis Hamilton suffered yet another frustrating grand prix in Miami in what is quickly becoming a shocking year for the seven-time world champion.

The Mercedes driver finished the inaugural Miami Grand Prix in sixth place, behind his new team-mate George Russell who finished fifth.

To add to Hamilton’s disappointment, Russell started the race down in twelfth whilst he started in sixth.

READ: ‘It went against Lewis’: Mercedes boss defends Hamilton after Russell outperforms him

Hamilton had shown good pace through the various free practice sessions and wasn’t too far off in qualifying.

The race was a different story though as after a poor start, which saw the Briton drop two places, the Mercedes driver struggled to make an impact at the front.

Instead it was Russell who made the most of the race and drove superbly to work his way though the field.

Russell to his due was benefited from the race’s late safety car, which allowed him to remove his hard tyres which he started the race on and fit a fresh set of mediums.

Pitting under the safety car saw Russell only drop two places to seventh, before climbing his way back to fifth in the closing stages.

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The result means Hamilton has only beaten Russell in one race so far this season, at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

One person who has been quick to praise Russell and condone Hamilton is 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve.

The Canadian believes there has been a “final changing of the guard” at the German team.

“I think we have seen the final changing of the guard at Mercedes,” he said.

“George Russell is riding the wave, Lewis Hamilton is trying not to drown. After many years of winning without competition, it’s hard to wake up and realise it’s not that easy.

“He now has to drive like he did in his first two years in Formula 1, which is what Russell is doing now. In the race Russell took the decision: leave me out, maybe a safety car will come – and it paid off.

“Lewis’ champion’s luck seems to have left him, he doesn’t have the momentum and nothing’s going his way. It’s going to be a tough fight, but Lewis is a racer and a champion. He knows what needs to be done and we’ll see if he still has the energy to do it.

READ: Max Verstappen backs Lewis Hamilton’s call for ‘cool addition’

“But I think missing the world title last year is a heavy burden for him that he carried with him all winter.

“He was bitter and feels that he was robbed. But you can see from the way Max drives that he didn’t steal the title at all and is a deserved champion.”

Hamilton has yet to show that pace that took him so close to the 2021 title, with the British driver following a similar downbeat mood as of Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

After the first five rounds Hamilton sits sixth in the standings, 23 points behind his team-mate in fourth.

More worryingly the 37-year-old is 68 points behind Charles Leclerc, who leads the championship.