Sir Lewis Hamilton’s image has benefitted more than Mercedes’ from the success the two have enjoyed together in the turbo-hybrid era of Formula One, according to ex-F1 racer Jacques Villeneuve.
Mercedes have won every Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship since 2014, with only Nico Rosberg managing to beat Hamilton over the course of a season (in 2016) since the Silver Arrows’ dominance began.
Villeneuve, who won the 1997 World Championship, has said Mercedes must win another title with a driver other than Hamilton if they “really” want to improve their image.
He also claimed that Hamilton “wanted to work less and less, and get paid more and more” – and that’s potentially what held up his contract negotiations with the Silver Arrows.
“Mercedes may have received its ultimate media backlash; winning again with or without Lewis doesn’t do much,” Villeneuve said.
“Having Lewis in the car, yes, it brings them a lot but we’re more in a position where it’s Lewis’ image that’s growing and not Mercedes’ image that seems to be growing. That’s the perception.
“What would really help Mercedes’ image is to win with a driver other than Lewis Hamilton.”
Commenting on Hamilton’s contract negotiations with Mercedes, which ended with them inking a one-year extension in February, Villeneuve said it’s clear that there was some disagreement.
“Clearly the two parties did not agree, whether it was financial or social issues, from what we understand, Lewis wanted to work less and less and get paid more and more, generally it doesn’t work together this way,” the Canadian concluded.