1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve believes Lewis Hamilton is showing no signs of age as the British driver has signed a two-year extension at Mercedes.
After months of suspense, Mercedes confirmed Lewis Hamilton on a new two-year deal ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
The seven-time World Champion, together with teammate of two years George Russell, will be staying on with the Brackley-based team until the end of the 2025 F1 season.
Jacques Villeneuve: ‘No surprise in Lewis Hamilton contract extension’
With Hamilton’s deal coming after a few months of intense speculation about his future, which had led to rumours spiraling about a possible split between Hamilton and Mercedes, 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve said he never had any doubts that Hamilton would re-commit his future.
“There’s no surprise in the contract happening,” he told PlanetF1.com in an exclusive interview from Monza when asked what may have caused the delay in the two sides reaching an agreement.
“There are reasons you know, Lewis will try to get as much as he can, not only financially but in other areas.
“And Mercedes will try to do the opposite. So there’s a continuous little battle going on… that’s normal. That’s why you sign contracts. If it was simple, then it wouldn’t be needed.”
Jacques Villeneuve: Lewis Hamilton isn’t showing his age
With Hamilton turning 40 during the period of his new contract, generally an age at which the vast majority of F1 drivers have retired or moved on from F1 to other categories, the British driver has shown no sign of wanting to leave the sport any time soon.
Villeneuve believes there’s no reason to doubt Hamilton’s abilities despite his age, pointing to the example of Fernando Alonso’s relentless competitiveness at 42 years old.
“He’s still younger than Alonso!” he said.
“Lewis is not showing his age, it’s like Alonso, it’s all down to how hungry someone is. And how one is willing to still push the envelope, the limit, and how much he’s enjoying the dream he had as a little kid, which was to be a race car driver.
“If that dream goes away, that’s when you start slowing down, not age. Mostly in the modern era where everyone eats better, and trains better. So I think that’s pushed the age boundaries quite a lot.”
Villeneuve explained that, while a driver may not necessarily slow down, their evaluation of risk vs. reward may lead to drivers making different decisions as a more mature racer.
“The driving changes a tad because there’s a better calculation that comes with experience,” he said.
“Experience compensates much more than any lap time that would be lost.”
Asked whether he feels Hamilton is chasing a futile goal, given the extent of Red Bull’s domination and the stable ruleset until 2026, Villeneuve dismissed the idea.
“Why would it be futile?” he said.
“Mercedes were so far ahead, and no one else gave up. It’s possible that Red Bull arrives at a point where they can’t evolve the car because they hit a wall in the development and Mercedes finds something.
“It’s never the end, even without rule changes.”