George Russell to become Mercedes team leader after Lewis Hamilton’s ‘insulting outburst’

Sir Lewis Hamilton finished fourth at the Dutch Grand Prix on Sunday.

1997 Formula 1 world champion, Jacques Villeneuve, believes that Sir Lewis Hamilton should have made the call to come into the pits towards the end of the Dutch Grand Prix.

Hamilton and team-mate, George Russell, went long on their first stint on Mediums as they aimed to go for the one-stop strategy.

Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc were set to make two stops ahead of them, and the Monegasque ended up behind after his second stop.

The Virtual Safety Car enabled all three of the leading cars to get the jump on Leclerc, and it also allowed Verstappen to pit and re-join in front of the Silver Arrows.

READ: ‘At some stage’: Lewis Hamilton defiant after missing out on Zandvoort win

A full Safety Car was deployed late on when Valtteri Bottas ground to a halt, and Verstappen and Leclerc both pitted for fresh Softs.

When Hamilton saw Russell pit behind him, he thought it would be in a bid to attack leader Verstappen, but it then dawned on him that the reigning champion had come into the pits for fresh tyres of his own.

The 37-year-old fumed over the radio and told the team that they had “screwed” him, and he was passed by Verstappen, Russell and Leclerc as he fell from first to fourth.

Villeneuve, known for his hot takes, suggests that Hamilton ought to have made the call to pit himself.

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“I see a change within Mercedes, George Russell is quickly developing into the leader of the team,” the Canadian wrote in his column.

“He took the decision to go for the soft tyres himself. Hamilton, with all his experience and championships, could have done the same.”

Hamilton later apologised for the radio communications that were made in the heat of the moment, but the former Williams, Renault and Sauber driver criticised the way the Briton spoke to his team.

“I was astonished by Lewis Hamilton’s outburst in the race and especially by the way in which he did it,” added Villeneuve.

READ: ‘I knew’: Lewis Hamilton explains when he realised victory was off the table

“He was aggressive, almost insulting, it’s good that he apologised, but this does not befit a champion. 

“After everything the team has meant to him, you shouldn’t speak to them like that.”

While Leclerc finished third behind Russell, his team-mate, Carlos Sainz, ended up eighth after a comedy of errors from his Ferrari team, allowing Mercedes to close the gap to 30 points in the battle for second in the Constructors’ Standings.