George Russell stepped into his W13 this season knowing that it wouldn’t win him a World title but that’s “okay” because his goal is to beat Lewis Hamilton, that’s according to Jacques Villeneuve.
From Mr. Saturday to Mr. Consistency, Russell has swapped his qualifying magic with Williams for a points-scoring run with Mercedes.
The 24-year-old has strung together a run of nine top-five finishes, the only driver to have scored in every race this season, putting him P4 in the Drivers’ standings.
With Russell seemingly coping with the W13’s bouncing easier than Hamilton, he has a 34-point lead over his team-mate having beaten the seven-time World Champion in all but two grands prix.
If he continues to do that this season, Villeneuve says his career will be made.
“He has the experience now and he’s had a few years of driving bad cars, difficult cars,” he said in the latest F1 Nation podcast.
“So yes, he was okay with a difficult Mercedes that was bouncing, all that mattered to him was beating Lewis.
“He knew from the start it wasn’t a championship-winning car, if he beats Lewis, his career is made. That’s all that he cares about.
“And also, both of them being British, he beats Lewis that’s it as his career has been made.
“So that was his only emphasis: what he needed to do to beat Lewis and that’s what he’s been doing.”
— Formula 1 (@F1) June 20, 2022
Beating Hamilton means beating a seven-time World Champion, the 37-year-old tied with Michael Schumacher for the record for the most World titles.
But never let it be said that Villeneuve will pass up an opportunity to credit the car for their success.
“It’s crazy,” said the 1997 World Champion. “Both these drivers have had years in the best car without any competition.
“Now take Prost and Senna without their team-mates, and they both would have seven championships, and they would be on the same scale as as Lewis and Schumacher.
“So it also takes you being in a car that’s unbeatable without a team-mate. Lewis had Rosberg for a year, and then Rosberg just gave up.”